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

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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  899 ratings  ·  144 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
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 16th 1999 by North Point Press (first published 1997)
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Paul
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...more
Krok Zero
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
Jimmy
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
Patrick O'Neil
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
Scott
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...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
M. Sarki
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/5231082...

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...more
Jason Coleman
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...more
Sarah
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.
K
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,...more
Corynn
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
rachel
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...more
Arlington
"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
Donna
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.
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.
TinHouseBooks
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.

From...more
Laura
Jun 04, 2012 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
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
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
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...more
Amar Pai
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...more
Sean Carman
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
Sam
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
Rose Gowen
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
Joshua
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
Kara
This is a memoir by a wayward critic who *really* wants to write a major book on D.H. Lawrence. The quest for DHL takes him all around the world on minor adventures that become hilarious in his dry style. When he crashes his moped on a Greek island...well I just almost peed my pants right then and there (then was rush hour, there was a crowded metro car; bad timing). Anyway, the product of Dyer's "study of Lawrence" is this wry, lovable semi-bio-autobio- graphical book that taught me a little bi...more
pinknantucket
Loved it... I thought about giving this book five stars but I try and save that for books that leave you with that feeling of deepest fulfilment and significance. A classic study of procrastination, the opposite of zen and many other facets of the human condition. Dyer is deeply self-deprecating about his inability to even start his book about Lawrence...and yet at some point we realise we ARE in fact reading a book about Lawrence! Funny and moving and intellectual. Also makes me want to read La...more
Frederic Hunter
Geoff Dyer’s OUT OF SHEER RAGE (Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence) is a very funny book. Since it is not easy to write a very funny book – sustaining the tone and producing the laughs is a real challenge – perhaps that’s all that needs to be said about the book.
It strikes me as being three things. First, it’s a long essay about ambivalence, about embarking on a project – writing a study of Lawrence – while not really wanting to do it. It asks the question: Is anything really worth doing? On page 19...more
Penny
This book really really should not work, but it does. Geoff Dyer agrees with his publisher that he will write a study of D.H. Lawrence. "Out of Sheer Rage" is the memoir of his year procrastinating this study, interspersed with actual discussion of Lawrence's life and work. In nine writers out of ten, this would be pure self-indulgence, but Dyer has method to his madness. He discusses how his favorite works by Lawrence are the most informal, and says, "If this book aspires to the condition of no...more
Julia
by the end of the book i had a creeping sense that geoff dyer actually contained under his manifoldly flawed self-deprecating exterior all the answers to life, this despite making the weird-ass declaration (& weird-ass on several different levels) earlier in the book that all women are perfectly content and comfortable when naked, to which i replied: ?????? and also with the usage, just now, of the phrase "weird-ass." i have never before used this conglomeration of words, have possibly never...more
John
Hilarious and heartfelt book about obsession, depression, will, and neurotic procrastination. And - slightly - about D.H. Lawrence too. My annoyance (envy?) with the author's life - traveling about from place to place, trying to write, seems about all he does - is defeated by appreciating the courage manifest in his telling us of his depressions, excema, sex problems, etc. I also identify with his violent impulses towards dogs.
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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.” 16 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.” 10 likes
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