teeth in your leg
N is talking about people who work out of a segment of the modernist canon one writer wide. They always pursue some punitive formalism or other and are marked by an astonishing vanity despite being read only by a following of five, with whom they are in weekly savage public disagreement at a pub. They’re mostly men, she says, and you recognise them by their raw ears. Be careful about encouraging them: encourage one and you’ll be his next victim, because there will always come a point at which you reveal that you’ve failed to fully understand the precursor. Disappointment will quickly turn to rage.
That seems a little harsh, I tell her.
But N only stares into the air as if remembering something. “You don’t want their teeth in your leg, because they never, ever have the common sense to let go.”