One Great Sentence

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“Did he kill? If he did kill, I would swear that it is with this meticulous, somewhat maniacal, admirably lucid care with which he classifies his notes, drafts his papers. Did he kill? Then it is while whistling a little tune, and wearing an apron for fear of stains.”

By One Great Sentence May 24, 2017

Why is it so great? I came across this stunning line (yes, it’s more than one sentence) in a piece in a literary journalism journal about the novelist Colette’s outings as a journalist covering “crime of the century”-type trials. Who knew? … Read more

“This will happen so fast that one night he will be in the backyard, believing it a perfect place, and by the next night he will have changed and the yard as he imagined it will be gone, and this era of his life will be behind him forever.”

One Great Sentence May 17, 2017

This famous piece by Susan Orlean is one of those stories where it’s hard to pick just one great sentence. You find one, and then another, and then another — a rabbit hole of great sentences. But this one … Read more

“She was beautiful but when she tasted the water from the glass on her lectern she smiled sadly as if it were bitter for, in spite of her civil zeal, she had a taste for the melancholy – for the smell of orange rinds and wood smoke – that was extraordinary.”

By One Great Sentence May 4, 2017

Why is it great? When I moved back to New England last year after nearly a lifetime away, John Cheever’s debut novel about a quirky New England family was the first thing I read. This sentence, near the beginning, captured … Read more

“He sat in an old chair near a particle board pinned with the yellowed obituaries of steelworker friends who died too early, including Robert Plater. 60. Cancer. A paper target practice figure hung next to the obituaries. Its heart had been blown out.”

By One Great Sentence April 26, 2017

Why is it great? I promise this is the last you’ll see of Springsteen on this site for the foreseeable future. But I had somehow missed this story by one of my favorite writers (and former co-worker on the … Read more