Published on August 10th, 2012 | by Mark Schiffer0
Geoff Dyer’s literary account of …Rage
Out of Sheer Rage : Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence is a book that is only tangentially about the author mentioned in its title. Author Geoff Dyer spent a good period of time researching, traveling, and pondering the life of D.H. Lawrence for this work with the goal of producing a masterful piece of literary and humanistic analysis. Dyer has undertaken such projects with subjects ranging from jazz (But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz) to Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” (Zona: A Book About A Film About A Journey To A Room). For this 1997 work, what he ended up with was an account of stagnation and depression.
However, this account more than succeeds as a literary memoir of self-loathing and humanity, and for that reason it can’t be recommended enough. If anything, it expands the potential audience for this work to include people who barely have even heard of Women in Love – the only Lawrence I had read prior to picking up Out of Sheer Rage…. Rather than a stuffy academic study, Dyer’s work instead sings with the pain of frustration. He takes elements from the life of D.H. Lawrence, attempts to project humanity onto them, and is troubled when he is unable to fully connect with his subject.
While certain passages of Out of Sheer Rage… read like the humorous travel writing of a more grounded Bill Bryson, others soar with the sadness of David Foster Wallace. It groups Dyer with such memoirists as Augusten Burroughs and Chuck Klosterman, authors who have processed their personal traumas and anxieties into humorous bestsellers. However, while Dyer’s work is funny, what one is left with goes far beyond that. He has taken the genre of the literary analysis, and fully humanized it in a manner that is both engaging and moving for all readers.