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Download Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D.H. Lawrence epub

by Geoff DYER

Download Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D.H. Lawrence epub
ISBN: 0316640026
ISBN13: 978-0316640022
Category: Biographies
Subcategory: Arts & Literature
Author: Geoff DYER
Language: English
Publisher: North Point Press; First Edition edition (1997)
ePUB size: 1365 kb
FB2 size: 1354 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 780
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Dyer is absolutely, devastatingly, hilarious. I'm pretty sure he started a genre here: the author (and all his flaws and neuroses) and how he goes about researching his subject, is just as interesting and relevant as his subject. In this case, Dyer is trying to write a book about D.H. Lawrence. and the emphasis is on trying. But this is no ordinary biography. Nor is it a critique of Lawrence's work. It is infinitely more interesting than that. We get to know Dyer much better than we ever get to know Lawrence--and Dyer is funny, flawed, neurotic, intelligent, insightful, and ridiculous. On top of that, he's a superb writer. This is a very entertaining book, and you don't need to be interested in D.H. Lawrence in order to enjoy it immensely.
Thoroughly enjoyed this trip into the wacky life and tormented mind of a writer who transforms procrastination into an art form. Ironically enough, things slow down a bit when he veers into extended riffs on what's supposedly his actual subject (D.H. Lawrence). But having started with almost zero expertise on that author, I found it a great way to gain some knowledge while getting to know the most bravely irascible narrator in recent memory.
As Dyer himself confesses this is the book you get get from a writer who has a contract to fulfill and nothing to say. Dyer has a wonderfully sharp wit, is awesomely well-read and can turn a lovely sentence, but essentially this is no more than a solipsistic piece of clever banter.
This is Dyer's best book. Very interesting and an outstanding read. Spoils you, however, for his other books!
A must-read if you are in a fight with your own long-form written work(s). Or if you are looking to procrastinate on a dissertation.
A must read if you're into neurotic lifestyles and thought. I got my good laughs out of it. Also, some good reflections on why we make ourselves miserable.
The title of Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence is taken from something Lawrence wrote of his own author-inspired work: "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." Just so, Dyer's book is not really about D.H. Lawrence--it is like one of "those wild books" Dyer describes "in which there is no attempt to cover the ground thoroughly or reasonably"--though Lawrence's life and writing do provide the book with what framework it has.

In conversational prose that makes his meandering narrative a fast read, Dyer recounts his experiences while trying to write a serious book about Lawrence. We follow the author as he travels around the world visiting the places Lawrence lived--Sicily, England, New Mexico--and while he pores over Lawrence's preserved correspondence. In the process we learn a little about Lawrence--he paid his bills on time, he is unlikely to have been comfortable naked, he tended to be angry much of the time, he was handy around the house. Mostly we learn about Lawrence's characteristics because they are shared by Dyer, about whom we learn a great deal. (Dyer, too, pays his bills on time, though he is not handy around the house.)

Dyer's defining characteristic is what he describes as his "rheumatism of the will, this chronic inability to see anything through." It is the reason he cannot decide finally where in the world he wants to live (a trait he shares with Lawrence), why he therefore lives "perpetually on the brink of potential departure," not acquiring the "trappings of permanence"--because while he may detest his current living arrangements, he suspects that he would regret at once the decision to give up the sublet he now finds stultifying.

Dyer's paralyzing indecision likewise renders him unable to do the exercises that will repair his knee and save him from continual pain, unable to decide whether or not to pack a particular book in his luggage, unable to write the serious study of Lawrence he originally had in mind, unable to write the book he was postponing writing by beginning the book on Lawrence. It is a wonder, in the end, that Dyer manages to conduct his life at all.

Dyer is also, like Lawrence, an angry man. While Lawrence was allegedly "angry even in his sleep," Dyer describes himself, sometimes amusingly, as cursing and muttering under his breath throughout the day, raging over insignificant annoyances.

"A few days ago the local delicatessen had run out of the luxury doughnuts which I have for my elevenses and on which I depend utterly.... Right, I thought to myself, turning on my heel and walking out, grim-faced and tight-lipped, I will return later in the day and burn the place to the ground with all the staff in it--friendly, charming staff, incidentally, who have often let me owe them money--so that they could experience a fraction of the pain that I had suffered by not being able to have my morning doughnut."

Dyer complains in the book about a lot of things--Italians, children, parents of children, literary criticism. I thought him a bit obnoxious early on in my reading, when he faulted the Greek fellow he'd rented a moped from for refusing to return his deposit on the bike after he (Dyer) had totaled it (through his own fault). His attitude becomes somewhat more forgivable when you come to understand that he recognizes, at least sometimes, how inappropriate his anger is.

There were times that Dyer's writing annoyed me. Particularly in the beginning of the book, he tended to repeat himself. He may have done so in a conscious attempt to add to the informal feel of his prose, but if so I think he went too far. For example:

"The next morning I could not move. I had to be helped out of bed. I couldn't move."

On a number of occasions, too, I was left wondering whether he was getting sloppy with his writing or was achieving some poetic depth I couldn't appreciate:

"The puddles by the roadside offered no reflection: the water was too old for that, was no longer sensitive to light."

But there were also a number of things in Dyer's book that I quite liked. There was the occasional simple, lovely sentence: "Not a great choice [of restaurants] from my point of view since sea-food is vile filth which I will eat under no circumstances." The relationship between Dyer's acquaintances Ciccio and Renata, who phone one another compulsively throughout the day, was priceless. And perhaps my favorite part of the book--the only part I found downright funny--was Dyer's description of his mortifying experience giving a lecture about Lawrence in Denmark. Thoroughly unprepared for the talk and sick with a bad cold, Dyer tried to use his illness and an ill-timed nose bleed to, at the least, gain a measure of sympathy from the audience. Which he failed to do.

As a window into the personality of a writer--Dyer, of course, not Lawrence--Out of Sheer Rage makes good, if not great, reading.

Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
Whether you're laughing too hard, or whether you think you've read enough, keep reading.
Not interested in DH Lawrence? Keep reading.