The Diary of a Rapist
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The Diary of a Rapist

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The 1960s: news of riots, war, unheard-of behavior, and rampant crime crowds the papers and the airwaves. Spurned by his wife at home and by superiors at work, Earl Summerfield hunkers down in his cramped San Francisco apartment and keeps a diary that is a scratched record of a world going to pieces. The words he overhears, the words he wants to say, swim in his head, turn...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 31st 2004 by NYRB Classics (first published 1966)
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What is the power of this book--how does it work on us? Does the writer, Evan S. Connell, know too much? And what exactly is that--too much? Something deep and dark about us as humans, something about American society, something about the twists our need for affection, validation, and power can take?
--A. M. Homes, introduction to Diary of a Rapist

What is the power of this book? Well, see, it was only $9.89 on Amazon, and it was from the New York Review of Books, so I had to buy it. I think there...more
This epistolary noir confessional is most definitely an acquired taste, like marmite and Heston Blumenthal’s mince pies.

And, it encumbers me to digress and consider such housekeeping points as how is it possible to give it four stars : the same four stars I gave Anna Karenina. They are each worth four stars to me yet there can be no question of comparison. I’m beset now with thoughts about stars for different categories, in which case delineations of high and low church reading arise, which is...more
Simon A. Smith
Wow. This was a damn good book. Disturbing? Yes. Frightening? Abso-fucking-lutely. Unnerving and breathtaking? You bet. But this has got to be the most daring, bold, courageous book I have ever read. Published in 1966, Connell took an enormous chance publishing this creepy, unorthodox story about a man's slow dissent into the pit of his own madness. I kept thinking, "holy shit!" It really got under my skin and crawled around a bit. I kept thinking, "this has got to be EXACTLY the way a rapist th...more
This book makes for great subway reading because no one will sit next to you if they notice the title.
May 25, 2008 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone but age dependent
This book is amazing. Oh my god, this thing scared the hell out of me. It's a beautiful testament to the struggle and strife that everyone feels. We are all capable of this kind of violence and hatred. You find yourself in Earl and you just seem to understand where he is going. You dont like it, you dont agree with it, but you understand it, and that is scary. It's also historically relevant (written in the 60's) you can look at it as the fall of society. I dont want to give anything away but th...more
Anita Dalton
My god, I am a sucker for depictions of madness, and Earl Summerfield runs the gamut of many ways human madness can express itself. This is not the tale of someone descending into madness. It is the tale of a full-bore madman from the very beginning.

I generally do not read reviews of books before I review them myself but I read some other opinions out there before I began this review. There are some for whom Earl Summerfield is the precursor to the modern Everyman, a person made mad by the world...more
Connell's nimble wordplay is a lifeline out of the paranoid muck of his 1968 San Francisco. Told as a year's worth of journals from an increasingly deranged narrator, The Diary of Rapist seems an obvious precursor to Scorcese's Taxi Driver in its first-person chronicle of a psychotic protagonist lashing out at urban upheaval. It's an unpleasant book to read--I had to set it down often--but Connell's tremendous control over voice and character, however unpleasant, makes it worth wading into the f...more
Tastes like a mixture of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground & something from Selby. The Diary stays mostly strong until the last quarter or so. I dont disagree w/it, but I wish it would have gathered in intensity towards the finish. Still, a fantastic read for the most part. I appreciated the subtlety in dealing w/the events which take place off the page & even more so the profound psychological insight. Its a nice portrait of a deteriorating personality. You can see as well as feel the...more
I thought this book may be interesting given the title and the amount of incredible reviews given by the other Goodreads users. However, I was seriously fooled and cannot understand why the book was so well received by numerous individuals. Overall, I felt the book was poorly written and is filled with long span of very dry reading and hard to realize what the real lesson / message is from this book. I still am struggling with how the book actually ended as it just kind of comes to a stop which...more
I imagine the controversy Connell ignited in 1966 with his disturbing and troubling account of Earl Summerfield's dark descent into the abyss of madness. The Diary of a Rapist is masterfully written, as you continue reading Summerfield's spiral into darkness it becomes all too real, his thoughts more twisted, his actions gaining momentum until he finally lashes out. The reader actually feels as if you are perusing the pages of a rapists diary - disturbing, frightening, fascinating, most of all...more
Oct 07, 2008 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer by: A.F. Rutzy
I am glad to have read this book. I got it thru IL loan thru my library, and it came from a local Mental Hospital. At first, given the name of the book and where it came from, I was a bit concerned. But after starting the book, I really had a hard time putting it down. The protagonist is driven, but so unsettled in his own skin that you have to keep reading to see what happens to him. The way it's written is captivating, because you really do feel as if you've picked up a man's diary. The line b...more
What’s most interesting about this book isn’t really the depiction of a ‘descent into madness,’ but the portrayal of a self’s inability to change, despite moments of lucidity and resolve—and what’s most difficult isn’t necessarily Earl’s woman hating and obsessive violent thoughts, but what would be excruciating in reading anyone’s personal diary (whine, whine, whine, me, me, me!). I liked this best when taking strolls were made to seem a reasonable and leisurely way to spend an evening (what el...more
Very much a one-trick pony of a book. The portrait of the disintegration of a man, Earl Summerfield, over the course of a year. Yes, he's angry, frustrated, disgruntled, delusional. The problem is all of this is made clear in the first 25 pages. From there, without giving too much away, it's nearly all the same for over 200+ more pages. It's an easy read in that it''s not terribly deep or involved, but reading page after page of this guy's ramblings and insane perceptions really wears on you aft...more
Truthfully it was yucky, not well enough explained, and rather disturbing. I usually hate the journaling style of writing, and this was no exception... but overall the book was just filled with small, hubristic statements made by Earl Summerfield. The book may have been interesting and edgy in the 60s or 70s, but is a bit played now: not quite gruesome enough while also being too gruesome. (This book is weird and therefore hard to review, sorry if this makes no sense.)
Don't read this book. It was disgusting. I think Connell is a very good writer, but you should really read "Mrs. Bridge" or "Mr. Bridge." I haven't read either, but I've looked at parts of "Mrs. Bridge" and it seems great. If you want to read Connell, read "Mrs. Bridge." Don't read "Diary of a Rapist." It'll make you feel insane.
The absolutely amazing book with the absolutely awful title. Without giving anything away, the title does serve an important function for the story, but I wish Connell would have found another way to do it; can't imagine how much this book has been passed over because of the title, and that's unfortunate.
Why am I stuck with such warped twisted writing? Was I imagining an American version of Seducer's Diary? Perhaps it is - it is about as much thought and art to expect from the American Johannes. Should know better than to blindly pick up a book for the NYRB Classics tag.
Erin Beck
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2009 Stephan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephan by: AF Rutzy
One man's turn to madness. It's kind of beautiful in that way. Represents demons and fears everyone has in some way.

But gets repetitive, aimless and the diary-narrative looses believability.

Liked the use of a Luc Tuyman's painting on another edition cover.
Alexander Christman
A grandiose, masturbatory fantasy so lacking in self-awareness that it's disturbing. I mean, of course the book is disturbing. But more so for its inability to transcend the indulgent romantic notions of solipsism. Botched Cassavetes realism.
This book is wonderfully written despite the focus. Some entries I had to reread just to savour the language. A whole lot more palatable than American Psycho, just as masterly done, but still makes me reflect on the writer behind the work.
Karl Steel
Aug 14, 2007 Karl Steel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: see below
Taxi Driver avant le lettre? Recommended to fans of Lagerqvist's The Dwarf, American Psycho, or The Killer inside Me, or maybe Why Does Herr R Run Amok.

Keep at it until the end when it assumes a Darger-like lyrical intensity.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"I have to go, hon. Ryan just showed up. He's holding a book called Diary of a Rapist. No, I don't think it's an instruction manual. What's that? Okay. I'll let him know."
Jan 07, 2010 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
This is a tough one, both disturbing and fascinating. Definitely a powerful novel in which one wonders about the stability of the author or the genius of his imagination...
Lauren DeLong
Utterly engaging, and disturbing in the best way. It's the kind of book that worms into a reader's brain, and darkens one's outlook even well after the book is finished.
Not one of those books you want to read on the train because of the strange looks you get from fellow passengers. Terrifying trip through the mind of a madman.
this book made me feel incredibly uncomfortable reading it. He never explicitly says he rapes the women, but it's implied. It's challenging getting through it.
One of the best books I've read in the past 20 years. First book I read that causes a dissonance by effectively using first-person narration filled with lies.
Shubham Mishra
Great Book.

This book shows clearly the devious mazes of the human mind. The wants of the conscious as the world plays it's tricks on it.
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NYRB Classics: The Diary of a Rapist, by Evan S. Connell 1 6 Oct 22, 2013 12:52PM  
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Evan S. Connell, over the last half century, has published nineteen books of fiction, poetry, and essays, several of which—including the best-sellers Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, and the erudite, anecdotal, and totally unique nonfiction book Son of the Morning Star—are American classics. I've admired his work for many years, since first reading Diary of a Rapist, and was happy for a chance to inter...more
More about Evan S. Connell...
Mrs. Bridge Son of the Morning Star: General Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Mr Bridge Mr. Bridge/Mrs. Bridge Deus Lo Volt!: A Chronicle of the Crusades

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