One Great Sentence

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“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

“She is the mother of two fatherless children and she was walking into the history of this country because she was showing everybody who felt old and helpless and without hope that she had this terrible strength that everybody needed so badly.”

By One Great Sentence March 29, 2017

Like a lot of people, last week I reread the story that made Jimmy Breslin famous. It has his greatest hallmark: writing about the little guy, in this case Clifton Pollard, who was paid $3.01 an hour to dig the grave … Read more

“He watched a mouse saunter up the electric cord leading to the nonfunctioning clock over the hotel bar and asked the Chinese waitress in German whether it was a tiger.”

By One Great Sentence March 1, 2017

This vivid, funny, terrific sentence could have been drawn from Lewis Carroll, but it’s from the middle of a deadline story on the frustrations of two “peace commissions” that were unable to keep the peace in Vietnam.  The observer is a Polish Army … Read more