Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘style’

Shop Talk |

Get Writing: Beautiful Sentences

Whether I’m reading poetry or fiction, I’m always looking for beautiful sentences, the kinds that make the hair on my arms stand up at their deftness, their grace. Take these three examples: For a moment she stared at the darkness as though it were the surface of a pond into which someone she loved had disappeared, head to heels. — Elizabeth Knox, The Vintner’s Luck The simile in this sentence is apt enough: darkness figured as the surface of a pond, but it’s the last three little words that make it beautiful. How else would someone dive? And diving is […]


Shop Talk |

"When you have only a sentence or two, there’s nowhere to hide."

Twitter turned five this week—an event celebrated by some and bemoaned by others. Is the (very) short form killing or helping our communication? Writer and teacher Andy Selsberg argues that learning to write short can make you a better writer: I don’t expect all my graduates to go on to Twitter-based careers, but learning how to write concisely, to express one key detail succinctly and eloquently, is an incredibly useful skill, and more in tune with most students’ daily chatter, as well as the world’s conversation. […] So a few years ago, I started slipping my classes short writing assignments […]


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Book-Length Sentences: The Antidote to Twitter? (And does Twitter need an antidote, anyway?)

That basic unit of literature, the sentence, has been getting a lot of attention lately thanks to Stanley Fish’s new book How to Write a Sentence. In it, Fish makes an argument that sentences are to writing what paint is to painting: But wouldn’t the equivalent of paint be words rather than sentences? Actually, no, because while you can brush or even drip paint on a canvas and make something interesting happen, just piling up words, one after the other, won’t do much of anything until something else has been added. […] Before the words slide into their slots, they […]


Reviews |

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

If you are what you eat, what happens when someone else eats what you are? In Aimee Bender’s latest novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, 9-year old Rose first experiences this conundrum when she tastes her mother’s birthday cake, only to come away with the uncomfortable understanding of her mother’s lonely dissatisfaction with life. The cake betrays the inner feelings of the cook. Over the course of the novel and Rose’s life, the predicament continues, building to an unwanted fixation of what constitutes food and those who grow and prepare it.


Reviews |

A Little Bone of Crazy, or This is Your Brain On Snowbroth: Leni Zumas’s Farewell Navigator

Most of Leni Zumas’s stories in her exceptional (and stylistically exciting) debut, Farewell Navigator (Open City, 2008), are compact studies of paralysis in the tradition of Beckett and Ioensco. Sherwood Anderson could have been describing Zumas’s characters as they, too, are “forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts.” In “Farewell Navigator,” one character envies a group of blind schoolchildren for having teachers “to pull them. Nobody expects them to know where to go.” And in “Leopard Arms”—a story told from the perspective of a gargoyle—a father fears “of doing nothing they’ll remember him for. Not a single footprint—film, book, record, madcap stunt—to prove he was here. Am I actually here? he sometimes mutters into his hand.”




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