Interesting fact: Rubinfine’s father, Rubinefine, wants Rubinfine to grow up to become a rabbi.
–Zadie Smith, from The Autograph Man
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
This is a short sentence with the signifier Rubinfine the only multiple-syllable word. It appears three times, and changes as referent, goes from signifying the son, to standing for the father, then back again to the son, and the entire meaning of this sentence is embedded in these changes. By the time we arrive at the culminating word, rabbi, which is what the son must become, its alliteration with Rubinfine and its echo of the long vowel makes it almost another Rubinfine. Smith has fun with the absurdity of this archaic Jewish heritage that requires sons to become their fathers, to fulfill the hopes and dreams of these fathers, even when farfetched, as in this case, which makes it “interesting,” and her mirth is infectious.
–Pearl Abraham is the author of, most recently, American Taliban and The Seventh Beggar