Jonathan Dyer talks about the setting of Monterey and why he used it for his novel ‘Let Me Explain’

I chose Monterey as the setting for part 2 of Let Me Explain. The choice was both fantasy and homage. Let me explain.

I first saw Monterey in the late summer of 1981. The Army sent me there to learn Russian at the Defense Language Institute. The Institute occupies a long, meandering hillside commanding a magnificent view of Monterey Bay. From the moment I arrived, I was hooked. I still am.

The rhythmic sense of eternity in Monterey is at once haunting and exhilarating. Its rugged, spontaneous past manages to mingle seamlessly with its more reserved, scripted present. The power of the endless, wild Pacific pounding at its outer edges is as mesmerizing as the silent calm of a summer fog on its cold, gentle bay. And it’s always surrounded by the smells of the sea, its life and its refuse, as I imagine it has been forever.


I left Monterey in 1983, but I keep going back. I’m drawn there as if it were my childhood home, a place I wish I’d never left. I hope I’ve done it justice.


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