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Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,271 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
Geoff Dyer had always wanted to write a book about D. H. Lawrence. He wanted, in fact, to write his "Lawrence book." The problem was, he had no idea what his "Lawrence book" would be, though he was determined to write a "sober academic study." Luckily for the reader, he failed miserably.Out of Sheer Rage is a harrowing, comic, and grand act of literary deferral. At times a
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 16th 1999 by North Point Press (first published 1997)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 21, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
This is a great book about being prevented from doing the thing you most want to do, the thing you're totally psyched about and can't wait to do, by yourself. Geoff Dyer wants to write a searing soul-wrenching book about DH Lawrence (guru, priest, prophet, you know) and Out of Sheer Rage is an account of how he didn't do it. Because his life got in the way, and his brain and heart got in the way, his girlfriend got in the way, the cat, the neighbour's rabbit, hamsters got in the way

but mainly hi
Krok Zero
Nov 23, 2011 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fall-2011
At the risk of stating the obvious, let's acknowledge this: what determines the quality of a memoir (not that Out of Sheer Rage can be so narrowly classified, but bear with me) has precisely nothing to do with the kind of life experience the writer has had, and everything to do with what kind of writer the writer is. Ask yourself: does this book exist because some jerk wanted to tell his marketably fascinating life story, or does it exist because a real writer had something interesting to say ab ...more
Rebecca Foster
This is a book about D.H. Lawrence in the same way that Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation is a film of The Orchid Thief. In other words, it’s not particularly about Lawrence at all; it’s just as much, if not more, about Geoff Dyer – his laziness, his procrastination, his curmudgeonly attitude, his futile search for the perfect places to read Lawrence’s works and write about Lawrence, his failure to feel the proper reverence at Lawrence sites, and so on. While I can certainly sympathize with Dyer’s wr ...more
MJ Nicholls
This entertaining look at authorial and general angst—fast becoming a sleeper hit on Goodreads—almost meets the hype, minus the actual parts about D.H. Lawrence, who is as pleasant to read as F.R. Leavis’s Guide to Dysentery. The narrator, unnamed, but accepted as Dyer himself, stumbles through his charmed life fretting about the best European paradise in which to write his sober academic study, the hilarity escalating as his Lawrencian angst takes over. Dyer’s apparent wealth sets up him up as ...more
The hardcover copy that I borrowed from the library has a yellow cover and a see through jacket. On the yellow cover is a photo of Geoff Dyer and on the see-through jacket is an image of DH Lawrence so that, when put together, their faces are laid over each other. This seems to me a perfect illustration of the book, which is a very personal take on Lawrence... a mixture of memoir, travel-writing, literary study, and existential meditation. Oh yeah, and how could I forget? Comedy: Geoff Dyer is a ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Scott rated it it was amazing
It's increasingly rare that I read a book that enthuses me as much as books routinely did when I was in my late teens and early twenties. This book made me feel like I was nineteen again.

It's a darkly funny, almost stream-of-consciousness prolonged essay on the joys and heartache of procrastination, writer's block, laziness, and guilt. D. H. Lawrence plays a role, but only a peripheral one: Dyer mainly uses Lawrence as a vehicle to explore his own fundamental lack of interest in anything having
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 22, 2008 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it
Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage is about neurosis, inertia, obsession, apathy, introversion, extroversion, incongruity and instability. In other words it’s about the human condition. What Dyer is overly exemplifying are all the frailties that humans project and endure: I’m in a room full of people and I’m lonely. I want to be loved but not by the person that I am with. While I am munching on this meal I’m thinking of another meal. I don’t want to be here I want to be there. It is endless. Dyer ag ...more
M. Sarki

The most captivating segment of the book was when Dyer acknowledged the brilliance, wit, and anger discovered in his reading of the letters of D. H. Lawrence. Offering these bright and shining examples helped in my growing interest of Lawrence and made me feel I was certainly in the right place regarding the squandering of my time. The bitter arguments Lawrence posed to the friendly receptors of the many letters I suppose he wrote fascinates me. Dyer maint
Jason Coleman
Oct 19, 2012 Jason Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greatest-hits
Stayed home sick from work for a couple days and it gave me the time to finally finish this thing. You know how you're actually kind of happy to be sick for once because you can at least relax. Graham Greene said the only place he could get any peace was in the hospital. But it was at turns a dull and stressful couple of days. Somehow this seemed like about the right state in which to read Dyer's book.

It begins as a sort of lament about indecisiveness: should he work on his study of D.H. Lawrenc
Dec 25, 2011 Arlington rated it really liked it
"Unless, like Thelma and Louise, you plunge off the side of a canyon, there is no escaping the everyday. What Lawrence's life demonstrates so powerfully is that it actually takes a daily effort to be free. To be free is not the result of a moment's decisive action but a project to be constantly renewed. More than anything else, freedom requires tenaciousness. There are intervals of repose but there will never come a state of definitive rest where you can give up because you have turned freedom i ...more
Jun 29, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is my favorite non-fiction book, ever. It is smart, funny, interesting, and honest. It does something I love: combines studying an academic subject (in this case, DH Lawrence) with more personal thoughts and stories.

I really can't say enough about it. And if you think that writing a book about procrastinating the book you actually want to write is a little gimmicky, you'd be right. But the writing is so good, I don't care.
Okay -- for once, I think I did give this book a fair shot. I actually got about halfway through before abandoning it rather than tossing it aside after 50 pages. I just don't think it's going to change radically in the second half, so why bother?

Which is more self-indulgent: Eat, Pray, Love, or this book?

I am actually among those who enjoyed EPL, although I recognize the criticisms of those goodreaders who called it self-indulgent and narcissistic. I found Elizabeth Gilbert funny and engaging,
Ronald Wise
This was one of two books I checked out of the library and set on a table in the bedroom. About an hour later this one was not to be found. So I retraced my steps, thinking I may have dropped it, and searched my car thoroughly to no avail. I then recalled that my two cats had a history of book thievery – they had taken to the ink in Half the Sky like cat crystal meth and the only way I could keep them from licking the pages while I was reading or stealing the book when I wasn’t, was to lock them ...more
Feb 15, 2009 Corynn rated it did not like it
I just couldn't handle this one. Maybe I am too impatient at this point in my life, but sheesh, I had to stop reading this book by Dyer. Don't get me wrong, it's not poorly written; Dyer is an intelligent, clever writer, and this book is very successful at what it sets out to do. He does a bang-up job of capturing the neurotic, indecisive, paralysis experience on paper; so good that it annoyed the hell out of me to read it. His "meta" jokes about Lawrence's own writing experience were cute too, ...more
Jan 23, 2010 rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, true-story
Geoff Dyer's neuroses make for one of the funniest books I've read in a while. Considering that his frequent subjects -- Lawrence, Camus, Nietzsche -- are not my favorite writers, and Nietzsche I would even say I dislike, it was impressive that he could still make their lives and thoughts interesting to me. I even started to enjoy Lawrence in the way Geoff did. I began to find his temper endearing.

The only parts of the book that dragged were the parts where it seemed like the "sober academic st
Oct 25, 2011 Donna rated it liked it
Whiny and repetitive.

Okay--Two years later, I realize I am guilty of most of the things he does. It obviously hit too close to home, and that's why I was so mean. And Christmas was coming which always pisses me off.
Jun 12, 2007 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a wonderful book. One of the central pillars of the genre of books about trying and failing to write an essay -- for example also see Thomas Bernhard's "Concrete," I think, and Nicholson Baker's "U & I"
Gregor Samsa
This book is straight up hilarious. I don't even like D.H.Larence. But Geoff Dyer makes it seem like he deserves his reputation as a great writer. This is a book I wish I'd written.
Nov 07, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to pair this book with Susan Howe's My Emily Dickinson, because despite their obvious differences (Howe's close reading and critical focus, Dyer's lack of reading and commitment to looseness) they share what I see as a common goal: an attempt to engage deeply with an author without resorting to critical schematics or misrepresentations. In other words, both Dyer and Howe are looking to get at their idols(?), while recognizing that their own subjectivity gets in the way of any kind o ...more
Aug 09, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really enjoyed about 90% of this book, but then he started going on about Camus and Nietzsche and I lost interest for a week. I shovelled through the rest on Saturday and accidentally took a nap less than a page before the end. Ooops. Kind of a sour ending to an otherwise really great read. I identified with the narrator (I won't say the author) a lot, although my own experiences are much milder and more internalized, easily overcome. Reminded me of Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot but with much more ...more
Courtney Johnston
Bugger. This will teach me to buy untested books rather than take my usual path of borrowing from the library and buying them when I find I need to keep them within arms-length.

Last year at the Webstock conference, a speaker gave a presentation on "all the other presentations I could have given today but didn't". It did not go down well. Likewise, Dyer's book is "all the things I thought and did to avoid writing my book on D.H. Lawrence". Touted as outrageously funny, mordant, a comic masterpiec
Amar Pai
Oct 14, 2008 Amar Pai rated it really liked it
Geoff Dyers's failed attempt to write a "sober, academic study of D.H. Lawrence." is quite funny. The author's personality really shines through. The excerpt below describes his motivation for writing the book...

But that, of course is why I was interested in writing a book about Lawrence: to enable me to pass into the realm of complete disinterest. Lawrence said that one sheds one's sickness in books; I would say that one sheds one's interest. Once I have finished this book on Lawrence, depend u
Rose Gowen
Nov 17, 2010 Rose Gowen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book I've read recently that owes a debt-- I realize belatedly, and thanks to Buck-- to Thomas Bernhard. (The other two are Bouillier's The Mystery Guest and U and I by Nicholson Baker.) This one is open about the influence: the narrator states in the beginning that he is dithering between writing a "sober study of D.H. Lawrence" and Bernhardian rant of a novel. It seems Dyer chose to combine the two. Even though the back of my copy categorizes the book as a memoir, I think it ...more
Jul 02, 2015 Al rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's all a matter of expectations (and paying closer attention to the book jacket text). Not that I presumed that this would be a scholarly study of D.H. Lawrence, but I'd hoped it would be ABOUT D.H. Lawrence and not its author Geoff Dyer, specifically Dyer's "crippling indecisiveness" to write a book about D.H. Lawrence. As Dyer admits at one point, "It may be of no interest to anyone--and this entire book, I suspect, is of no interest to anyone...." Midway through "Out of Sheer Rage" Dyer fin ...more
Sean Carman
Jan 20, 2013 Sean Carman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this delightful book, Dyer writes about not being able to write his study of D.H. Lawrence. He is not able to write his study of Lawrence in London, Rome, Paris, Oaxaca, and Taos. Eventually, the book he writes about not being able to write his study of D.H. Lawrence, Out of Sheer Rage, turns out to be a wonderful study of D.H. Lawrence, a book about D.H. Lawrence that could only have been written by a man who was unable to write such a book. The playful contradictory essence of Out of Sheer ...more
Apr 12, 2013 Julie rated it liked it
Hilarious and unique. I've never read anything like this book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part D.H. Lawrence biography, part writerly self-help manual... God, someone shoot me, I sound like a blurb. But seriously, this book killed me. My favorite parts was when he was in Italy and Mexico, basically making a complete mess of his life. This book made me feel better about myself as a person, comforted and supported in my own neuroses and anxieties. I think comparisons to the film 'Adaptation' ar ...more
Desiree Andrews (Assistant Editor, Tin House Magazine): I’m most of the way through Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer. When people ask me what to read, Dyer is one of the first writers I’m likely to mention (I used to universally recommend James Salter, but that’s gotten me into trouble).

I picked up Sheer Rage before a weekend on the coast because I wanted something that I knew I wouldn’t want to put down. There was no doubt in mind that that book would fulfill that desire, at the very least.

Sep 21, 2009 Joshua rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I don't care one whit for D.H. Lawrence--not one. Considering this book is about Dyer's failed attempt to write a serious study of DH's books its quite surprising how much I liked this. It's sort of about Lawrence but it's more about Dyer's endless neurotic rants (to say that Dyer is neurotic is an extreme understatement...he's a kindred spirit. A very entertaining one at that.) where he unleashes a myriad of excuses on why he can't write the book--he's a genius at coming up w/ reasons on delayi ...more
Jim Hale
It appears that this navel-gazing gone mad book has all the important people in literature in a kind of congratulatory stupor. One of the many gushing endorsements notes how "genre-rattling" it is and all. As long as you're "honest" you get away with writing anything that sounds real and authentic, even if it's authentic garbage...

"Neither of us could move properly, but if we arranged ourselves, carefully, we could make each other come. I lay on my back and Laura moved over my face, saying 'Ah,
Xan Holbrook
Aug 10, 2014 Xan Holbrook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I have always had an abiding and animated disgust for DH Lawrence for as long as I have taken reading seriously, due not only to his nastiness, pomposity and bigotry, but also his humourlessness.

Geoff Dyer has stumbled upon genius in realising the most interesting and brilliant moments to be had in writing about DH Lawrence are in avoiding writing about him altogether. The situations Dyer finds himself in - whilst procrastinating so hard it becomes an art form - simply are absurdity at its most
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Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (winner of a 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize ...more
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“Life is bearable even when it's unbearable: that is what's so terrible, that is the unbearable thing about it.” 30 likes
“To be interested in something is to be involved in what is essentially a stressful relationship with that thing, to suffer anxiety on its behalf.” 20 likes
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