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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,811 ratings  ·  247 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
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: litcrit
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 15, 2011 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
Lynne King
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is completely wild. Geoff Dyer is supposed to be writing a book on D.H. Lawrence and he does everything imaginable so that he doesn't have to do this. We are taken on marathon journeys to Sicily, the UK, Taos in New Mexico, etc. and it is exhausting to hear about Mr Dyer's complaints. He even buys an apartment in Oxford to help him write this book. Does he want to be there, no but he feels he has to be. His poor girlfriend Laura deserves a medal staying with him. Is it love or is it lu ...more
Steven Godin

'I hate doing anything in life that requires an effort'

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder Dyer didn't write the book about Lawrence he wanted to write. I'm surprised he even bothered writing a book about trying to write a book about Lawrence. He even mentions later on 'I doubt this book will be of any interest to anyone' And yet, it was just so darn readable!
Out of Sheer Rage works as a sort of travelogue - from Paris and Greece, to Sicily, Rome and Mexico - of a writer seemingly having
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2017
It's what's known in our business as a "genre bender" -- that is, an undefinable sort of book that really defies definitions. So let me try.

For starters, take a deep breath. This book has no divisions in the way of chapters. Dyer just pushes it at the top of a mountain (say, Mount Ostensibly a Biography) and watches it roll. And roll. And roll.

Luckily, the momentum stops on p. 232 (hardcover) because readers might not be able to sustain their patience with a biography of D.H. Lawrence that's not
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
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
Jul 22, 2008 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
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
Mar 03, 2010 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
Feb 15, 2009 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
Leo Robertson
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I seem to be on a post-Heller trip, with this one, Edouard Louis, and now Joshua Ferris' short stories!

This is a hilarious ode to procrastination and the grinding restlessness that accompanies the freedom of adulthood, which is rarely articulated as clearly as it is here. I can highly recommend to any adult, who will surely get something out of this account!

It's important to remember that straight white men who love to go on double-bindathons gain a lot of pleasure from discovering Catch-22-esqu
Jason Coleman
Oct 19, 2012 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
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,
Apr 08, 2007 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.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote my comments after reading Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D. H. Lawrence but before reading Maggie O’Farrell’s Introduction. If you own the Canongate edition, stop reading my comments and start reading O’Farrell’s Introduction. I’m delighted that O’Farrell made a few of the points that I tried to make, but of course her comments are far more thorough, more intelligent, and more apropos than mine. No, I’m not offended at all: just stop reading this right now and read O’Fa ...more
James Murphy
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the end Geoff Dyer decides he's depressed. Perhaps his depression, if that's what ails him, if, indeed, he's ailing, is the driving impulse behind Out of Sheer Rage. He's unable to act decisively. As soon as he decides on a course of action he changes his mind. Out of such indecision, which he calls the detour as straight line, he's written a book about D. H. Lawrence without being fully committed to writing it. The result is a kind of memoir of his traveling in Lawrence's footsteps to Eastwo ...more
Jul 02, 2015 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
Dec 25, 2011 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
Jan 20, 2010 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
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Geoff Dyer is a writer after my own heart, whose purest essence is captured in these pages. At its core, this is a book about writing a book about D.H. Lawrence with frequent literal and geographical digressions -- all crafted with trademark Bernhardian flair. Also having read most of his contemporary stuff, it was fun to spot kernels of ideas or topics that Dyer later fleshed out in essays over his literary career.

A sample:
Nov 07, 2011 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
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
Pickle Farmer
Apr 12, 2013 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
Lee Klein
Jun 12, 2007 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" ...more
Nov 24, 2009 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.
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. ...more
I love Geoff Dyer now. I love him and feel free and liberated and able to say things like "I hate that prick he's awful and insane. I talked to him for a while over beer I also hated, then he became interesting and actually the beer grew on me, now we are lovers." He is contradictory, ridiculous and wonderful and you will see yourself if you are, well, if you are like him.

This book is all about his struggle to write a book about D. H. Lawrence, which is the one thing he absolutely does not want
Johnny Lyne
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Struggled with this initially, found the use of repetition quite grating. Definitely grew on me though and found the author's constant state of irritability amusing a lot of the time. Definitely really well written for the most part and glad I read in the end. Don't think this will prompt me to read a lot of D.H.Lawrence - not that that's the point... ...more
Peter Tillman
Steve Martin mentioned this one as a book that made him laugh: "...Geoff Dyer’s “Out of Sheer Rage.” One doesn’t think a book about D. H. Lawrence could be “laugh-out-loud funny.” But it was..."

With humor, who knows? Worth a try, if the library has a copy.
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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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