Thursday, January 27, 2011

Metasentence of the day

If the history of the American sentence were a John Ford movie, its second act would conclude with the young Ernest Hemingway walking into a saloon, finding an etiolated Henry James slumped at the bar in a haze of indecision, and shooting him dead.
-- Adam Haslett, via Bookslut.

He's reviewing Stanley Fish's new book How to Write a Sentence, which may be the first non-obnoxious thing Fish has written in 30 years. Recalling my failures as a teacher of Comp 101, I think if I did it over again we would spend the first couple of weeks just writing sentences.

... Notice btw how Haslett's sentence isn't just a sentence about sentences, it's a sentence whose style mimics the styles it discusses: the "finding" clause parodies James's syntax and vocabulary, contrasted to the Hemingwayesque conclusion, "and shooting him dead." Well done.

No comments:

Post a Comment