Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My life's sentences.

Sorry to post twice -- if I'd seen this article a few minutes sooner I'd have posted them together, but ah well. C'est la vie. (Hagh - I just typed C'est la view. Nope! Wrong.)

This is also from the NY Times, the Sunday Review section. It's an opinion piece by Jhumpa Lahiri, author of Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth, among others. Also one of my friend Dennis (who happens to be an excellent writer himself!)'s favorite authors! (Side note: do you find yourself stymied by sentences like the one I just constructed, too? I never know how to insert an appositive (which, by the way, I just had to look up in a grammar glossary so DON'T FEEL BAD if you didn't know what it meant, either. I just knew it started with an "a". It's a noun phrase used to describe something that means the same thing -- ex: Bob, my aunt's husband, went fishing.) Anyway, I never know where to put the appositive or where to put the apostrophe! I have solved this problem by DEFYING the laws of grammar and creating my own structure. What would Laura, my roommate, the linguist, (APPOSITIVE times TWO! unintentional!) have to say about this?

This piece was just beautifully constructed.


I love where she says, of sentences: "They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates."

I also love that her article directly reflects what she's saying about sentences. (If that makes any sense. It did when I thought it, but then again I've only been up for an hour or so and have had just shy of one cup of coffee.)

Also, I found the way she describes her relationship with her own books intriguing and perhaps a bit sad: "Even printed, on pages that are bound, sentences remain unsettled organisms. Years later, I can always reach out to smooth a stray hair. And yet, at a certain point, I must walk away, trusting them to do their work...This is why I avoid reading the books I've written. Why, when I must, I approach the book as a stranger, and pretend the sentences were written by someone else."

I like this last line because the structure reminds me of the last part of William Cullen Bryant's poem, "Thanatopsis", which I read at my grandmother's funeral:

"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

For some reason the structure of "when I must, I approach the book as a stranger" reminds me of "thou go not, like the quarry-slave..but like one who wraps the drapery...about him"."

Happy Sunday! Hope you're sleeping in, drinking coffee or tea or whatever your poison may be, and enjoying the slower pace of a week-end day.

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