Suppose a Sentence by Brian Dillon

Suppose a Sentence by Brian Dillon

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From the publisher:

In Suppose a Sentence, Brian Dillon turns his attention to the oblique and complex pleasures of the sentence. A series of essays prompted by a single sentence – from Shakespeare to Gertrude Stein, John Ruskin to Joan Didion – the book explores style, voice, and language, along with the subjectivity of reading. Both an exercise in practical criticism and a set of experiments or challenges, Suppose a Sentence is a polemical and personal reflection on the art of the sentence in literature. Whether the sentence in question is a rigorous expression of a state of vulnerability, extremity, even madness, or a carefully calibrated arrangement, Dillon examines not only how it works and why but also, in the course of the book, what the sentence once was, what it is today, and what it might become tomorrow.

‘Essayist and critic Brian Dillon is in thrall to sentences. For a quarter of a century, he tells us in his marvelous new book, he has been collecting them, in “the back pages of whatever notebook I happen to be using,” ... The product of decades of close reading, Suppose a Sentence is eclectic yet tightly shaped. Mr. Dillon has a taste for the more eccentric prose stylists, and lights with delight upon the likes of John Ruskin ... His essay on Thomas De Quincey is a small masterpiece ... The best and certainly most beautiful piece in the book is on Roland Barthes, “the patron saint of my sentences” without whom “I would never have written a word.”  It is easy to understand what Mr. Dillon means when he speaks of Barthes, one of whose books is called A Lover’s Discourse, as “the most seductive writer I know,” for Mr. Dillon’s own book is a record of successive enrapturings.’
 John Banville, Wall Street Journal

‘Taking as his starting point a sentence that has intrigued him for years or, in some cases, come into his ken more recently, Brian Dillon in Suppose a Sentence ranges through the centuries exploring the associations of what he observes and discovers about his object of study and its writer, through biographical anecdote, linguistic speculation, and a look at related writings. This rich and various collection resembles a beguiling, inspiriting conversation with a personable and wry intelligence who keeps you happily up late, incites you to note some follow-up reading, and opens your eyes further to the multifarious syntactical and emotional capacities of even a few joined words of English. Enjoyable and thought-provoking reading!’
— Lydia Davis, author of Can’t and Won’t

‘Dillon has brilliantly reinvented the commonplace book in this witty, erudite, and addictively readable guide to the sentences that have stayed with him over the years.’
— Jenny Offill, author of Weather

‘Brian Dillon is one of the true treasures of contemporary literature – a critic and essayist of unmatched style, sensitivity and purpose – and Suppose a Sentence is a book only he could have written. It’s an inspired celebration of the sentence as a self-sufficient artform, and reading it has reinvigorated my sense of the possibilities of writing itself.’
— Mark O’Connell, author of Notes from an Apocalypse

 

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