Sunday, November 27, 2011

‘Like Telling Someone That If He Doesn’t Get Some Sleep He’ll Become an Insomniac’

Unlike some New Yorker writers (Dorothy Parker, we’re looking at you), Peter De Vries saved his best one-liners for his work: “The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.” “If there’s any one major cause for the spread of mass illiteracy, it’s the fact that everybody can read and write.” “If all the repressed women in the world were laid end to end, it’d be a damn good thing and a better world all around.” “No woman of breeding has nine children. It’s a contradiction in terms.” “She’s a great lay, but she needs an editor.”

This next one doesn’t show up on his quotes page, perhaps because it’s from his last novel (published in 1986) and his quote compilers went about their work chronologically. Our main character has just encountered an old flame at an A.A. meeting:
He remembered with a twinge how he had said to her, “If you don’t stop drinking you’ll become an alcoholic.” How idiotic his preachment sounded in memory. It was like telling someone that if he doesn’t get some sleep he’ll become an insomniac.
Speaking of taking De Vries chronologically, that’s not at all how I’m going about it. But I am on track to clear him out (minus a few hard-to-find titles) in the next few weeks, at which time I’ll write a proper profile, since long posts about obscure figures are becoming a bit of a tradition here.

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