Fiction

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“Before the aurora borealis appears, the sensitive needles of compasses all over the world are restless for hours, agitating on their pins in airplanes and ships, trembling in desk drawers, in attics, in boxes on shelves.”

By One Great Sentence November 15, 2017

Why is it great? I admire the way Dillard turns a piece of natural science into a narrative of anticipation during which no human being makes an entrance.  The aurora borealis, better known as the northern lights, is a spectacular … Read more

“Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving.”

By One Great Sentence October 30, 2017

Why is it great? For Halloween, I decided to use this wonderfully spooky line from Mark Twain (who in his writing and his speaking was a true master of the Great Sentence). Starting with the rhythm of “away out in … 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