‘Suppose a Sentence’ in the Press October 22, 2020

Brian Dillon's remarkable new essay collection, Suppose a Sentence, was published in late September, and the reviews are steadily rolling in! Below you can read some notable praise from critics at The New York Times Book ReviewThe Wall Street Journal, and more.

“[A] record of appreciation, a rare treasure in an age that rewards bashing. . . . Dillon’s affinities prove eclectic and unexpected. He knows some authors, among them Roland Barthes, exhaustively. Others, like the jazz critic Whitney Balliett, he admits he has just discovered. He admires James Baldwin, Maeve Brennan and Annie Dillard. Best of all, he loves writers who craft sentences crooked with clauses, like Thomas Browne and Thomas De Quincey. . . . Dillon writes similarly digressive sentences. Suppose a Sentence has many rewards, but its greatest gift is its exuberant style.” —Becca Rothfield, The New York Times Book Review

“Marvelous. . . . [Dillon] is no slouch himself at crafting a phrase. . . . 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, who ‘insisted he knew perfectly well if, or when, he had lost his mind.’ His essay on Thomas De Quincey is a small masterpiece. . . . Mr. Dillon’s book is a record of successive enrapturings.” —John Banville, The Wall Street Journal

“In this delightful literary ramble, Dillon (Essayism), a creative writing professor at Queen Mary University of London, expounds upon remarkable sentences from a variety of voices in literature, past and present. . . . The well-chosen sentences themselves are worth the price of admission, but Dillon’s encyclopedic erudition and infectious joy in a skillful piece of writing are what stamp this as a treat for literary buffs.” —Publishers Weekly

“These chronologically arranged picks from the 17th century to today are the ‘few that shine more brightly and for the moment compose a pattern.’ The author plumbs biography, autobiography, and history to add context and background, with particular attention to each author’s literary style. . . . A learned, spirited foray into what makes a sentence tick.” —Kirkus Reviews