Friday, January 23, 2009

Out of Sheer Rage

The full title is OUT OF SHEER RAGE: IN THE SHADOW OF D. H. LAWRENCE by Geoff Dyer and I am relishing it. Dyer set out to write a book about Lawrence. What he actually wrote was a book about trying to write a book about Lawrence. This sounds tiresomely post-modern, but it's not. It's funny and perceptive and mordantly self-critical. Dyer is a procrastinator, a hypochrondriac, a complete pain in the arse. He's irascible and intolerant, and quite incapable of beginning his book about Lawrence. But he never lets himself off and because he doesn't forgive himself, the reader can. Besides, it becomes clear in the course of the book - and Dyer admits as much - that is really the account of a kind of breakdown: 'not a history of how I recovered from a breakdown but of how breaking down can become a means of continuing.' You learn something about Lawrence along the way, too.

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