Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer (Shane's book five, 2010)

This very funny book is hard to categorise. Is it fiction or non-fiction? Is it a biography or a book about not writing a biography? Having read it, I still don't know the answer but I'm tempted to say that's it's all of those things.

[amtap book:isbn=0349108587]

Geoff Dyer, or a fictionalised version of him, wants to write a book about DH Lawrence. However, he alternates between being paralysed by procrastination and restless to the point that he can barely stay in one country. He's in Paris when the book begins but believes he can't write there and gives up his apartment with the intention of moving to Rome. Having given up his apartment, he becomes convinced that he can't write anywhere else but Paris but it's too late.

From Rome, where it's too hot, he heads for a holiday in Greece, unable to decide whether to take his hefty volume of Lawrence's complete poems. If he takes it, he's sure that he won't even open it but if he leaves it behind he's convinced it will turn out to be the one book he truly needs to read.

And so on. Dyer follows Lawrence's trail across Europe, to the US and to Mexico. He is plunged into depression and bedridden with a nasty dose of flu.

Throughout, Dyer offers observations on Lawrence (though a knowledge of Lawrence, or even any interest in him at all, is not necessary to enjoy this book), rages at literary critics and brilliantly evokes the condition of being stricken with indecision. His petty rages, for example against a cafe that frequently runs out of his favourite breakfast, are hilarious.

It's very readable but there's something profound about it too. Recommended.