We read every day. We mow through books and stories like the anxious go through potato chips. But sometimes it’s nice to stop and appreciate examples of transcendent writing. You know the stuff — the phrase, the image, the sentence or paragraph that stops your headlong rush forward and shows you you’re in the presence of a real artist of the written word. So that’s what we’re doing today (and we ambitiously declare that we will do this every Saturday going forward, though, because we know ourselves, we reserve the right to stop if we get lazy or tired or forget). This is Best Sentence Saturday #1.
Here now, three of the best sentences we came across in our reading this week. Share what you’ve enjoyed this week in the comments, if you’re so inclined.
1) Author: Steven Polansky; Story: “Beard”; from his collection Dating Miss Universe
We loved this description of a photograph of the protagonist’s writing teacher:
“(In the photo) Her eyebrows are thin, straight lines that go at right angles from the bridge of her nose and stop, clean, halfway across the top of her eyes. Her nose is sharp. Her lips are full and open slightly, as if they’d just come to rest after saying “I know and I am sorry for you.”
2) Author: Charles Baxter; Book: Feast of Love, page 288:
Two characters are in a scuffle with one another and one hits the other. Just have to love the description of how the guy looks after he gets hit. The moment passes quickly in the story, but it took real care and craft for Baxter to pull this from his imagination:
“I put the chair down and popped him one. He stood for a moment, as if surveying the sky for blimps. Then his knees gave way under him and he appeared to sit down, dazed, on the sidewalk.”
3) Author: Charles Baxter (yes, OK, we were on a Baxter kick this week); Story: “Flood Show”:
Love this character description:
“Conor is a large, bearish man with thick brown hair covered by a beret that does not benefit his appearance. He knows the beret makes him a bit strange-looking, and this pleases him. Whenever he bikes anywhere there is something violent in his body motions. Pedaling along, he looks like a trained circus bear.”
The description is so comical and vivid and says so much about the character. But then the fact Baxter says “his body motions” instead of “his movements”, is brilliant. “Body motions” is an awkward phrase and it adds to our understanding of Conor as an awkward character.
That’s it from here. Whatever you’re reading, enjoy!