One Great Sentence

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“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

By One Great Sentence March 1, 2018

Why is it so great? The writing in this famous passage is so good that George Orwell wrote a parody of it designed to ridicule the bloated writing of his day: “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success … Read more

“There is a time to write and a time to walk and a time to reflect and a time to act and I come unwillingly to this journal today, wanting to do something less reflective and feeling that I sometimes strip myself of my most reasonable attributes, bent over this machine.”

By One Great Sentence January 10, 2018

In August 1991, I read John Cheever’s journal excerpts published in The New Yorker. I was a 19-year-old college dropout, a waitress, and in the half hour before starting my shift, I sat outside my local library, electrified by this candid, … Read more

“We were taken to the ‘Oh, My God, Corner,’ a position near the escalator. People arriving see the long line and say “Oh, my God!” and it’s an elf’s job to calm them down and explain that it will take no longer than an hour to see Santa.”

By One Great Sentence December 20, 2017

It’s hard to cull just one sentence from Sedaris’ embedded reporting on being a helper at Santaland, a place he describes as “a real wonderland” with a path taking visitors through the “ten thousand sparkling lights, false snow, train sets, … Read more

“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