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Amazing Sentences

roxanegay:

in my craft of fiction class, we’re looking at sentences and paragraphs this week. These are some I’ve highlighted as favorites from contemporary fiction:

Amazing Sentences

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot:

Jane was sufficiently bewildered by what kind of person she was, so it was always arresting when someone, particularly a stranger, summed her up.

Forgotten Country, Catherine Chung

My mother did not want to go to America: this much I knew. I knew it by the way she became distracted and impatient with my sister, by the way she stopped tucking us into bed at night. I knew it from watching her feet, which began to shuffle after my father announced the move, as though they threw down invisible roots that needed to be pulled out with each step

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt:

Mrs. Barbour was from a society family with an old Dutch name, so cool and blonde and monotone that sometimes she seemed partially drained of blood. She was a masterpiece of composure; nothing ever ruffled her or made her upset, and though she was not beautiful her calmness had the magnetic pull of beauty—a stillness so powerful that the molecules realigned themselves around her when she came into a room…

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones:

“Silver” is what I called girls who were natural beauties but who also smoothed on a layer of pretty from a jar. It wasn’t just how they looked, it was how they were. The name came from a song my mother sang sometimes when she was getting dressed to go out somewhere special. She sang along with Aretha Franklin at the end: “Sail on, silver girl… Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way.

Zazen, Vanessa Veselka

I tried to map the cultural trends leading up to it but as I did they grew, interconnecting and weaving backwards and sideways out to everything. Next to the megalithic institutionalized shredding of people’s humanity, marked by tombstone malls and scabby hills, the Styrofoam gullets and flag-waving god-chatterers casting their votes for eternal paternity on the lap rapists - next to all of that, the intimacy between a terrorist and his target was almost a beautiful thing but I still couldn’t solve that moment when they did it anyway so I grabbed more paper and widened my field of vision

Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush:

One thing she knew and Ned did not, was that there is no permanent friendship between men, among men. Something goes wrong, somebody marries the wrong person, somebody advances too fast, somebody converts, somebody refuses good advice or bad advice, it didn’t matter. It went up in a flash, it went up in a flash like magnesium paper set on fire in a magic show. She thought, It’s not always great with women, either, but it can be. Women can have friends, it’s more personal, she thought. Although in the great design of things, women were getting to be more like men. There were more tough cookies around, and liars.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Besides, humility had always seemed to him a specious thing, invented for the comfort of others; you were praised for humility by people because you did not make them feel any more lacking than they already did.

The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner

People who are harder to love pose a challenge, and the challenge makes them easier to love. You’re driven to love them. People who want their love easy don’t really want love.

My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are this, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this the night. I was small and really my doll knew more than I did.

Come Together, Fall Apart, by Cristina Henriquez

Her brand of meanness was of the temperate variety. She threw little punches but they were never the sort to leave bruises.

We The Animals, Justin Torres

This is your heritage,’ he said, as if from this dance we could know about his own childhood, about the flavor and grit of tenement buildings in Spanish Harlem, and projects in Red Hook, and dance halls, and city parks, and about his own Paps, how he beat him, how he taught him to dance, as if we could hear Spanish in his movements, as if Puerto Rico was a man in a bathrobe, grabbing another beer from the fridge and raising it to drink, his head back, still dancing, still steeping and snapping perfectly in time.

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, Danielle Evans

When people don’t hide things, it means they don’t care enough to be afraid of losing you.

Savages, Don Winslow

If you let people believe that you are weak, sooner or later you’re going to have to kill them.

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

Women don’t realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits. We absorb their comings and goings into our bodies, their rhythms into our bones.

The Lover, Marguerite Duras

Suddenly, all at once, she knows, knows that he doesn’t understand her, that he never will, that he lacks the power to understand such perverseness. And that he can never move fast enough to catch her. It’s up to her to know. And she does. Because of his ignorance she suddenly knows: she was attracted to him already on the ferry. She was attracted to him. It depended on her alone.

Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward

We crawled through time like roaches through the linings of walls, the neglected spaces and hours, foolishly happy that we were still alive even as we did everything to die.”

May We Be Forgiven, A.M. Homes

We retreat back to the sofa and watch more television, and I find myself thinking that I now understand what the perfect use for TV is—it gives people who have nothing in common something they can do together and talk about: it gives us familiar territory. I have a new respect for what George used to do, how television binds us as Americans—we are what we watch.

A Sport and a Pastime, James Salter

Certain things I remember exactly as they were. They are merely discolored a bit by time, like coins in the pocket of a forgotten suit. Most of the details, though, have long since been transformed or rearranged to bring others of them forward. Some, in fact, are obviously counterfeit; they are no less important. One alters the past to form the future

The Wife, Meg Wolitzer

Everyone needs a wife; even wives need wives. Wives tend, they hover. Their ears are twin sensitive instruments, satellites picking up the slightest scrape of dissatisfaction. Wives bring broth, we bring paper clips, we bring ourselves and our pliant, warm bodies. We know just what to say to the men who for some reason have a great deal of trouble taking consistent care of themselves or anyone else. “Listen,” we say. “Everything will be okay.” And then, as if our lives depend on it, we make sure it is.”

The Brutal Language of Love, Alicia Erian

Love was never easy, she knew. And if it was, it wasn’t love—friendship maybe, but not love. What she felt for Leonard was something limp and slack. It had no charge, no current running through it to hurt her if she wasn’t careful. The reality was, you only knew you were loved if you were left and returned to, if you were ignored and then craved. Occasionally you would be seen for slightly less than the sum of your parts, and that was love, too. Love announced itself with a sting, not a pat. If love was love, it was urgent and ripe and carried with it the faint odor of humiliation, so that there was always something to be made up for later, some apology in the works. Love was never clean, never quiet, never polite. Love rarely did what you asked it to, let alone what you dreamed it might do, and it most certainly did not know that your favorite color was blue.

Dare Me, Megan Abbott

I guess I’d been waiting forever, my palm raised. Waiting for someone to take my girl body and turn it out, steel me from the inside, make things matter for me, like never before.

Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson

I’m sure we were all feeling blessed on this ferryboat among the humps of very green—in the sunlight almost coolly burning, like phosphorus—islands, and the water of inlets winking in the sincere light of day, under a sky as blue and brainless as the love of God, despite the smell, the slight, dreamy suffocation, of some kind of petroleum-based compound used to seal the deck’s seams.” 

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

Then the fight went out of control. It quivered their arms and legs and wrenched their faces into shapes of hatred, it urged them harder and deeper into each other’s weakest points, showing them cunning ways around each other’s strongholds and quick chances to switch tactics, feint, and strike again. In the space of a gasp for breath it sent their memories racing back over the years for old weapons to rip the scabs off old wounds; it went on and on.

Airships, Barry Hannah

Jane truly liked to talk to fat and old guys best of all. She didn’t ever converse much with young men. Her ideal of a conversation was when sex was nowhere near it at all. 

Sometimes, in the midst of the chaos, the churn, and the daily grind, I forget that words (when put in the right order and chosen just so) can make your spine straighten up and your heart beat a little faster. 

More than 60 years later, a love note from a familiar stranger 

WEST TISBURY — The mysterious package arrived on a blustery day in February from a man Cynthia Riggs had not seen in 62 years. He wrote his return address in latitude and longitude. The contents baffled her: pages of yellowed paper towels, covered in penciled code.  

Then, she remembered. In 1950, when she was an 18-year-old college student, she had landed a summer job sorting plankton at a marine geology lab in California. She befriended one of her colleagues, Howard Attebery, a kind soul who stood out from the other young men more interested in teasing her or nailing shut her lab drawers.  

In gratitude, Cynthia wrote notes in a simple code to Howie, who was 28, on the pile of paper towels that sat next to her microscope, breezy thoughts about life, research, co-workers. These were the notes he was now sending back to her.

Inside the envelope that traveled from Howie’s house in San Diego to Cynthia’s post office box on Martha’s Vineyard, he added one new message, also in code.  

“I have never stopped loving you,” he wrote.

"No. No. No." 

rookiemag:

There is a really wonderful profile on Rookie contrib Roxane Gay in the Guardian. Roxane’s book, Bad Feminist, was published yesterday. I’m only halfway through right now, but I can already tell it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I urge you all to pick up a copy, or request it from the library, or ask that your library carry it. And, of course, if you can’t get your hands on it just yet, there is always Roxane’s prolific Tumblr, which you should follow.

xx.

Anna Fitz

Hero.

rookiemag:

There is a really wonderful profile on Rookie contrib Roxane Gay in the Guardian. Roxane’s book, Bad Feminist, was published yesterday. I’m only halfway through right now, but I can already tell it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I urge you all to pick up a copy, or request it from the library, or ask that your library carry it. And, of course, if you can’t get your hands on it just yet, there is always Roxane’s prolific Tumblr, which you should follow.

xx.

Anna Fitz

Hero.

There was always hope and never loneliness. That’s how Lois Nelson could stay in a relationship so many others would find untenable. The way she saw it, she had no choice but to commit herself to Daniel Holland. She loved him, deeply, and there was nothing she could do about that.

They wore each other’s wedding rings, though they never made the marriage official. That was just one of many things they didn’t do in their 13 years together. They never went on a proper date, never sat next to each other in a movie theater or across from each other in a restaurant. They never cooked together, sorted their laundry together, or stood at the bathroom sink and brushed their teeth together. They never took a vacation, never even left Illinois. He never got to know her three children. She never got to feel him against her in the middle of the night.

She wanted these things, of course she did. But she realized early on that she was with Dan for the here and now. Because nobody was guaranteed a tomorrow, and because life was so much better with him in it—even if he was in her mind more often than he was at her side.

When he died last May, people who’d never met Dan—and hadn’t wanted to—sent cards and called often to check up on Lois. Grief isn’t something people judge. But as Lois knows all too well, love is.

Love Under Lock and Key - the love story of Lois the prison guard and Dan the inmate serving an 85 year sentence

(Source: beyoncevoters)

89,005 plays

I can’t stop listening to this stupid beautiful song.

(via autobibliography)

(Source: asaladaday)

This, this, this.

This, this, this.

Getting It Right 

roxanegay:

It is so hard to get things right. I realize, of course that “right” is often a very intangible thing but still. It is hard to get things right and I am the kind of person who likes to get things right, who likes to perform well, Type A, etcetera etcetera. I’m writing an essay about how ambition…

If you’re a twentysomething today, there’s a veritable list of things that you should perfect: your body, of course, but also your career, your relationship, your spiritual health, your children, your social media presence, your political aptitude, your knowledge of world affairs, your attentiveness to environmental issues, your dedication to feminist activism, your 401(k), the list goes on. The Sparks narrative offers a life — and a love story nested within it — that extracts its protagonist from those concerns and consolidates the demands of life into one, simple task: Open yourself to love, and love in return.

"Why Nicholas Sparks matters." 

(Source: BuzzFeed)

And so we’ll be watching next Monday as the newest Bachelorette — who has been through the exquisitely staged courtship routine and knows her lines — says she’s ready for love and knows The One is out there, offering up the trite pablum of Hallmark love. We will watch, mocking the spectacle, secretly trying to fill the ways we are hollow. We are not as cynical as we pretend to be. We continue to date and fall disastrously in love and marry and divorce and try again despite overwhelming evidence that it is a hell of a thing to stay with one person for the rest of your life. Few among us want to die alone, holding that hollow space inside us. The real shame of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” of the absurd theater of romantic comedies, of the sweeping passion of romance novels, is that they know where we are most tender, and they aim right for that place.

Roxane Gay on The Bachelor

(Source: The New York Times)

Welp.

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

Nora Ephron

therumpus:

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:

Aquarius: This week might feel frustrating at first, it might feel weird. It might feel like you can’t quite catch your balance, like nothing’s going quite the way you planned it. The world’s going to remind you, this week, that it can still amaze you. It’s going to remind you of how big it is. It’s going to remind of what a sweet strange thing it is to be alive. Try to be open to surprises, this week. Try to wake up early and watch, every day, as your world comes to life.

Today’s image was made specially for Madame Clairevoyant by Jen May.

But making high-pitched noises won’t solve your problem if your problem is a complete inability to cope with change.
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