The Shorter List Would Have Been Who He Didn’t Quote


Then The Observer just started writing down names every time Mr. Dyer quoted someone, which happened roughly every three minutes, beginning with the people he quoted in the essay he read about going to the couture shows in Paris from his new collection, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, and then moving on to the writers he quoted from memory in the Q and A.

Here is the list, which took up most of the receipt and therefore is not in any particular order, and probably not even exhaustive:

1. Mark Doty (who provided the following epigraph to Mr. Dyer’s essay on the couture shows: “The world’s made fabulous / by fabulous clothes.”)

2. Frank Gehry

3. Philip Larkin

4. Don Delillo (Mr. Dyer quoted the following: “her face conveyed the suggestion of lifelong bereavement over the death of a pet rabbit.”)

5. Jim Morrison

6. Nietzsche

7. D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

8. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night

9. Nicholson Baker

10. Tony Judt (who came up when Mr. Dyer commented on “the incredible regression in social mobility” in Britain.)

11. T.C. Boyle’s Budding Prospects

12. Albert Camus’ Lyrical and Critical Essays

13. Jonathan Franzen (Mr. Dyer recalled something a friend said about Mr. Franzen: “he suffers so you don’t have to.”)

14. Sebastian Faulks

15. Thomas Mann

16. “Borgesian”

17. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

18. Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: “I like her tone.”

19. Julian Barnes

20. Martin Amis

21. Alan Hollinghurst (Mr. Dyer called him “the greatest straight-down-the-line English novelist,” remembering with particular fondness the description, “knob-flaunting speedo.”)

22. Renata Adler’s Speedboat

23. John Updike

24. Thomas Bernhardt

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Dyer’s collection, new to the US, anyway, is worth it for the Def Leppard essay alone.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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