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Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H.…
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Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence (1997)

by Geoff Dyer

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4301635,824 (3.96)17
  1. 00
    Flame into Being: The Life and Work of D.H. Lawrence by Anthony Burgess (SnootyBaronet)
  2. 00
    Television by Jean-Philippe Toussaint (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: I'll get around to explaining the recommendation soon. I must buy some books & build shelves for them first, and that will make me forget to water my neighbour's plants, and hiding from my neighbours because I did so will take up a great lot of time, time that I could have used to explain why I recommended this.… (more)
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» See also 17 mentions

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I fell in love with this book within the first ten pages, started to fall out of love thereafter (weary of the same thing over and over again and desperate for some white space), but then fell in love again - harder - at about the halfway mark.

I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could, but I can't, so I'm rounding down. My issue is the unresolved matter of how Dyer can claim that he, like Lawrence, lived on the edge of existence with regards to finances but then fail to address how he managed to travel all around Europe and then North America without ever doing an honest day's work. (He does mention, briefly, writing a few articles for money, but he spends much more time talking about how he literally does nothing all day - and this for several years.) I'm guessing he had an advance that funded this project, but if so it would have been nice for him to explore that. Without being up front about how he was actually able to live this fairly extravagant lifestyle, his claim that he was struggling financially makes his adventures read like that of a man who doesn't realize his incredible privilege or have any inkling of what it actually means to struggle financially.

Still, that's a fairly minor flaw in an otherwise wonderful and hilarious book. I'd say it's requiring reading for writers - and would probably be valuable for lit scholars and non-writerly artists as well. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
Tried to be another Moveable Feast but fell flat. Amusing enough in it's own way but I could never get around to finishing it ( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
Tried to be another Moveable Feast but fell flat. Amusing enough in it's own way but I could never get around to finishing it ( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
Tried to be another Moveable Feast but fell flat. Amusing enough in it's own way but I could never get around to finishing it ( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
A book purportedly about D.H. Lawrence, Out of Sheer Rage is about Geoff Dyer trying, and failing miserably, to write a biography of D.H. Lawrence. The result is a hilarious account of writer's block, an examination of the process of creation, and-Whoops!- one of the best books written about D.H. Lawrence. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
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Epigraph
per - you see I can speak Italian - Valeria
'Out of sheer rage I've begun my book on Thomas Hardy. It will be about anything but Thomas Hardy I am afraid - queer stuff - but not bad.' 
D.H. Lawrence, 5 September, 1914
'Endless explanations of irrelevancies, and none whatever of things indispensable to the subject.'
Gustave Flaubert on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
'It must all be considered as though spoken by a character in a novel.'
Roland Barthes
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Looking back it seems, on the one hand, hard to believe that I could have wasted so much time, could have exhausted myself so utterly, wondering when I was going to begin my study of D.H. Lawrence; on the other, it seems equally hard to believe that I ever started it, for the prospect of embarking on this study of Lawrence accelerated and intensified the psychological disarray it was meant to delay and alleviate.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0865475407, Paperback)

Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence is the best book about not writing a book about D.H Lawrence ever written. Other people have written untraditional, even loopy tributes to the priest of love before--including boon companions Anais Nin and Henry Miller--but no one has done it with Dyer's chutzpah, or with such fantastic success.

Dyer started out with the intention of writing either a sober academic study of Lawrence or a novel based on his subject's life but couldn't seem to do either. The academic study, he realized, was really just an excuse to read Lawrence's work, and the novel never even acquired a rudimentary shape in his mind. Instead, he somehow convinced his publisher to pick up the tab for his lengthy globetrotting pilgrimage, which took him from Paris to Rome to Greece to Oxford--not to mention such Lawrentian hotspots as Taos and Mexico and San Francisco. The result is an extended, often hilarious, meditation on seafood, English TV, Dyer's own creative impulses, and occasionally even Lawrence.

In Lawrence's seminal prose he finds some justification for his own capricious indulgences: "What Lawrence's life demonstrates so powerfully is that it actually takes a daily effort to be free.... 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 into a permanent condition. Freedom is always precarious." Yet he refuses to read Lawrence's novels, confining himself to letters, travel reportage, and other casuals. Indeed, "[o]ne gets so weary watching authors' sensations and thoughts get novelised, set into the concrete of fiction, that perhaps it is best to avoid the novel as a medium of expression."

Dyer's fascination with Lawrence's minorabilia suggests not only an oblique criticism of the contemporary novel, but a promising direction for the memoir. Perhaps clean, well-lighted subjectivity is a dead end, and the future lies with eccentric, provisional works along the lines of Flaubert's Parrot and How Proust Can Change Your Life--or Out of Sheer Rage. After all, Dyer's bright (and brilliantly shambolic) book of life reminds us of why we read in the first place: to see the surprising ways one person can be brought to life by another. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence is the best book about not writing a book about D.H Lawrence ever written. Other people have written untraditional, even loopy tributes to the priest of love before--including boon companions Anais Nin and Henry Miller--but no one has done it with Dyer's chutzpah, or with such fantastic success.… (more)

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