Rebecca's Reviews > Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence

Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer
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bookshelves: writers-and-writing, uncategorizable, memoirs, travel-books

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 wry comments about his work habits (“I hate doing anything in life that requires an effort”; “better reading than writing”; “all things in which I am interested … [are] a source of stress and anxiety”), I liked best the parts of the book where he actually writes about Lawrence. He has an impressive familiarity with Lawrence’s body of work, including the complete letters, as well as the life story, so there’s no denying he could have written a definitive biography.

I too have visited the Eastwood heritage sites in Nottinghamshire and the Taos ranch, way back in my undergraduate days when I did independent Hardy and Lawrence tourism in summer 2004 and then attended the D.H. Lawrence Society of North America 2005 conference in Santa Fe. Ultimately I found academia too dry and soul-crushing, and Dyer feels much the same: “Spare me the drudgery of systematic examinations and give me the lightning flashes of those wild books in which there is no attempt to cover the ground thoroughly or reasonably.” That, I think, explains why he didn’t write an academic study in the end. Yet he still could have written a book about Lawrence, instead of one where Lawrence lurks in the margins. I prefer the way James Lasdun worked in a brief foray to Lawrence territory in his Give Me Everything You Have.
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Reading Progress

February 14, 2012 – Shelved
July 3, 2016 – Started Reading
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: writers-and-writing
July 11, 2016 – Shelved as: uncategorizable
July 11, 2016 – Shelved as: memoirs
July 11, 2016 – Shelved as: travel-books
July 11, 2016 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle Excellent review, some of the academia writing is a bit much for an average reader, "soul crushing" is really a good description. It is fascinating to read about the mind of a brilliant scholar, I usually skip over the passages that are over my head though.

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