I saw Brian Dillon talk about his new book on a virtual book tour and got excited about reading it. As Dillon has come across sentences over the years that he admires and can’t let go, he has written them down in the back of whichever notebook he happened to be using at the time. The project of this book was to devise a procedure to select, order, and comment upon a number of these sentences. I like the introduction, in which he describes the task, as much as any other part of the book. I do like a procedure: very ModPo.
One of the sentences (and the name of the book) comes from Gertrude Stein, a sentence which appears in the Objects section of Tender Buttons (“A Seltzer Bottle”):
“Supposing a certain time selected is assured, suppose it is even necessary, suppose no other extract is permitted and no more handling is needed, suppose the rest of the message is mixed with very long slender needle and even if it could be any black border, supposing all this altogether made a dress and suppose it was actual, suppose the mean way to state it was occasional, if you suppose this in August and even more melodiously, if you suppose the even in the necessary incident of there certainly being no middle in summer and winter, suppose this and an elegant settlement a very elegant settlement is more than of consequence, it is not final and sufficient and substituted.”
Dillon’s commentary begins like this: “She must have derived her fondness for the verb “to suppose” from her study of logic and composition.” and it ends like this: “It is exactly what I want from a sentence, this combination of oblique self-involvement and utter commitment to the things themselves. For words are also things and things are apt to burst with force and loud report.”
Yes. This book isn’t long but it is dense.