“In her memoir, Twyla Tharp, who collaborated with Byrne in 1981 and in the process became romantically involved with him, wrote that he seemed to want “to find the residue of ancient thoughts in the most up-to-date aspects of society.” His investigations sometimes turned up what Lethem calls “palliative remarks” and “lunatic optimism,” as in “Don’t Worry About the Government,” when Byrne assures himself, “Some civil servants are just like my loved ones,” as well as aperçus whose nourishing sadness calls to mind Pound and Larkin.”