Sunday, August 21, 2005

A splendid sentence

I just had to share a striking sentence from John McPhee's "A Forager", a profile of Euell Gibbons collected in A Roomful of Hovings.

Some background: McPhee and Gibbons are canoeing on the Susquehanna River. After explaining that the once-mighty Appalachians are now worn down to stubs, McPhee writes:
The remnants, the forested mountains of central Pennsylvania, with their flat ridgelines, looked as soft as Scottish wool — their trees gray and bare against a background of fallen leaves on rising ground — and the implied mountains of Pennsylvania, miles high between the actual ones, cast a kind of shadow that was colder than the wind on the river.
Damn. That's quite a sentence.

My writing already gives me enough trouble. But after reading something like this, everything I write is as awkward and unsatisfying as sex on a unicycle.


Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Scott. My 2c: writing like this is like ground black pepper. You don't need much of it to spice up your work. I prefer a lean, unadorned prose that doesn't get in the way of the story. To me, this author (of the example you give) is trying too hard. I might even put the book down if I read sentence after sentence like that.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you... say on a unicycle?

11:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home