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The Diary of a Rapist

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  269 Ratings  ·  55 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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Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Saturday, September 27

I used to pass by Half-Priced Books on the drive home from work and made a regular, weekly stop. Hence the pile on the desk and the shelf of To-Be-Reads. I no longer make that drive, but today, after a breakfast and book morning, I swung around and pulled up the potholed drive to HPB. Surely, there'd be some 'finds' after a two-week hiatus. And there were; although, I felt some sense of self-control at walking only four books up to the appropriately frumpy cashier. He looke
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: disturbia
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
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
Feb 07, 2008 rated it liked it
This book makes for great subway reading because no one will sit next to you if they notice the title.
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
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, other, library-2
When thinking of criminals; we tend to only think of them per the end product of their crime and don’t consider how they “got there” or their thoughts along the way. Evan Connell focuses on precisely this stage and state of mind in his novel, “The Diary of a Rapist”.

“The Diary of a Rapist” follows the fictional Earl Summerfield – a 26 year old man stuck in a miserable marriage with his wife Bianca and working at a dead end job in a governmental agency. At the end of the day, aside from these ex
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone but age dependent
Shelves: classics
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
Bilan M. Atayaah
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
"So, earl, another week has ended. You survived, be thankful. The city of San Francisco stinks with vice. Hypocrisy. Theft & Lies. Hail to the hieroglyph, to the sound of tamping boots. Buildings fall, wild screams, the clanking of religious armour. Could anybody suppose He laboured six days to create This! My mother's labor was more profound. Ask. Ask if life's always been like this. Or are we born in an age when the nature of God is changing?"

3.5 This is a rather intense, philos
Anita Dalton
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Inn Auni
Earl Summerfield, 26 years old, a civil servant, married to a 33 years old high school teacher, wrote a diary entry everyday from 1st January up til 25th December 1966 except on 4th July.

Earl hated his job, his wife and pretty much everything. He kept record of the bad things that happened around him or what he could get from the news. And at one point, he saw all the bad things as normal. Like stuff should happen that way and no one will bat an eyelash.

So what happen on 4th of July 1966? It was
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up 60 pages in. It's written in the form of a diary. The main character is a miserable, whiny, boring, self-loathing, self-aggrandizing monster. He has an awful job. He hates his wife, who is slightly older than him. His coworkers are stupid. People don't recognize that he's a superior being. (So he thinks of himself, anyway.) Plus he's oogling women and thinking about doing terrible things to them.

After 60 pages of this, I can't help but feel this isn't going anywhere interesting or worth
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ultimately just disappointing... i understand the value/sense of journal entries that tread the same ground repeatedly as the basis for a novel, but even so the story never went anywhere after the first 20 or so pages... hates life, hates job, hates women, hates boss, hates children, hates self ad nauseam... after all that i expected a flurry of violence or an orgy of self-mutilation or maybe renewing his marriage vows... as in, what the hell?!?!? anything could have happened but nothing did, ju ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Kara Bernard
Apr 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Diary of a Rapist seemed interesting at first, a journal written by one exhausted by his life and self and, as a result, becoming infatuated with the violence in the world and using it as a sort of escape. However, I found myself bored at the monotonous entries, each chapter more or less saying the exact same thing over and over again with no development or movement to an end. The book ends abruptly and leaves the reader dissatisfied and quite bored. I also found the writing unfortunately si ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Sep 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nyrb-classics
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
JJ Aitken
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Daring title, daring content. This is a very gritty and unflinching stripping bare of a sadly all too familiar male soul. Pick up a paper, watch the news, open your eyes in the street. This is a descriptive portrait of one mans life that reminds me of many I have heard about across multiple forums. When left in isolation in an environment made up of heartache and lonely survival, this shocking decent into “a madness” is this mans reaction to his inability to express in words what he feels about ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.)
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
A difficult read, as it is the daily diary of a man leading up to, and in the aftermath of, a rape. Evan S. Connell's ability to embody this monster's psyche is a testament to his mastery of the craft. Horrifying every journal entry, it is, at the same time, blithely unnerving to see the warning signs that the protagonist cannot.
Alexander Christman
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I read and enjoyed Lolita and many other books about this sort of subject, but I pretty much hated this book. It reminded me of someone I knew who was very heavily medicated but needed much more help.
This character slips down the depths of insanity and makes less sense with each page.
Erin Beck
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I absolutely hated this one, not because it was bad but because it was so good and effective. Takes you right inside the mind of the rapist, who unsurprisingly is such a loathsome character that you just want to slam the book shut and then scrape the story off your skin.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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.
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NYRB Classics: The Diary of a Rapist, by Evan S. Connell 1 8 Oct 22, 2013 12:52PM  
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
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  • The Stories of J.F. Powers
  • After Claude
  • We Think the World of You
  • Alfred and Guinevere
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  • The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
  • The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography
  • I'm Trying to Reach You
  • Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
  • The Mountain Lion
  • Classic Crimes
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
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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
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