I heard an interesting NPR piece on All Things Considered about the American Scholars; 10 Best Sentences. They admit that the choices are subjective, but they usually have come from a “hey listen to this” conversation. I picked three of my favorites out of the ten below.
“In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor.” Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.” Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
However, what I enjoyed the most about both the NPR story and the ten best are the comments by readers on each story. People are picky, passionate, mean, loving, encouraging, snarky, funny and above all enthusiastic about their picks and their comments on the choices of others. Check them out, if you don’t enjoy them almost as much as the story I don’t want to know you.
Some of my favorite sentences in no particular order and without strict limit to one sentence only;
“She had walked close to him today, his am had brushed against hers and his roughness had caressed her softness. There had been a sensation akin to death and birth.” Amulya Malladi, Song of the Cuckoo Bird
And a passage I loved from one of my favorite books.
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.
I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.” Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
Someone posted this quote in the comments section on NPR, I have never read Joseph Conrad, but this made me want to seek him out.
“Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of unextinguishable regrets.” Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”
Words, sentences, quotes and songs all sound different to me depending of the variables of my life: my mood, the openness of my heart, the delivery, whether I’m hungry or full, whether I’m there in the moment or wasting this moment thinking of one off in the future. They all impact me in different ways too; soothing me when I’m angry or upset, welling the tears when I am sad, filling me with love and warmth when I am open and willing to be vulnerable or fueling my anger, building a hate and slamming a door when I am closed and not truly listening.
I want to listen, be open and live in the moment. No more wasted energy, life or love.
Do you have a favorite sentence, story, poem or song? Does it or do they make you feel something?