Like Isak Dinesen (who "claimed to have poor sight, yet could spot a four-leaf clover in a field from a remarkable distance away"), Marias has a sharp eye. Nabokov is here, making "the highly improbable assertion that he is 'as American as April in Arizona, '" as is Oscar Wilde, who, in debt on his deathbed, ordered up champagne, "remarking cheerfully, 'I am dying beyond my means.'" Faulkner, we find, when fired from his post office job, explained that he was not prepared "to be beholden to any son-of-a-bitch who had two cents to buy a stamp." Affection glows in the pages of Written Lives, evidence, as Marias remarks, that "although I have enjoyed writing all my books, this was the one with which I had the most fun." "
W. W.\Norton#& Company Limited