Suspend Your Disbelief

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The Best Sentences, One Tweet at a Time


New York Magazine book critic Sam Anderson is running a literary Twitter experiment — and no, this isn’t a Twitter novel. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite. Anderson tweets the best sentence he reads each day, and as he points out, “‘Best,’ in this context, can mean almost anything: funny, beautiful, enlightening, stylistically amazing.” A few of his selections:

“Rain patters on a sea that tilts and sighs.” (philip larkin, ‘absences’)

I think that at least a third to half of all MFA seats should be reserved for people with families. (junot diaz, panorama interv. w eggers)

“But according to my count, it’s ten times ten — it’s a hundred o’clock.” (mr. weevle, bleak house)

“The little river rushed between the milky bluffs like cola.” (barry hannah)

Why do it this way? Anderson explains:

The object is to use Twitter as a daily note-taking system: to document, organically, the various text-streams I actually pay attention to — novels, magazines, blogs, whatever. When Salinger died I went back to read Nine Stories and tweeted this sentence from “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”: “She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty.”

What makes this project fascinating is that each sentence must stand on its own. And in isolation, a single amazing sentence catches your attention in a new way. Or, as Anderson puts it, “Some people have described Twitter as anti-literary, but I find that it makes me pay attention in interesting ways. It can put a spotlight on throwaway lines I might otherwise have lost forever.”

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