You could describe D.H. Lawrence as the great multi-instrumentalist among the great writers of the twentieth century. Here, Geoff Dyer draws on the whole range of Lawrence’s published essays to reintroduce him to a new generation of readers for whom the essay has become an important genre.
... vividness runs through the 'selected essays' of The Bad Side of Books,...As Geoff Dyer stresses in his penetrating introduction, Lawrence ignores genre straitjackets as he blends travel writing, memoir, philosophical musings, storytelling and a novelist’s flair for portraiture and description ... No matter what he writes about, though, Lawrence generates — in language crackling with passion and conviction — an intensely reimagined experience. Jonathan Swift, when challenged, could produce a brilliant essay about a broomstick; Lawrence outdoes him in his tour-de-force Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine.
Most of this material was new to me, and I enjoyed this book enormously ... Reading Lawrence’s writing about sex, in general, leaves you suspecting that he walked around with perpetual rugburn ... ends with Rebecca West’s remembrance of Lawrence, published shortly after his death in 1930. Lawrence would have admired her refusal to lapse into panegyric ... Lawrence’s deadline excursions nearly always hit their mark.
... the selection of essays reads like a long conversation with a mentor at the end of his career, still rabidly devoted to the acts of thinking and remembering ... the more engrossing chapters are those in which he makes urgent arguments about the craft of writing in particular, especially the writing of novels, and about art and what it should mean to be an artist, in general. These are delivered with incredible clarity, foresight, and passion.