For wealth comes from capital, and capital comes from labor, and labor comes from equilibrium, from calories in chasing calories out, an inherent, in-built leanness, the leanness of biological machines that must be bent to your will with some force if you are to loosen your own financial belt and, sighingly, expand.
–Moshin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
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
—Stephanie Grant, Guest Editor
The identical structure of the first three phrases establishes a strong rhythm, which begins to shift with ‘from calories in chasing calories out.’ Here we notice the abstractions are getting more concretely human: ‘calories’ and ‘leanness’ and ‘biological machines.’ These last two are partial rhymes, as are ‘inherent’ and ‘bent,’ which give the disturbing content a light, jaunty tone. Like a military propagandist, Hamid deploys euphemism (‘biological machine’ instead of person; ‘lean’ instead of starving) to obscure the violence and poverty he is describing. Finally, Hamid makes use of two clichés, the first verbal – tightening one’s belt – the second visual – the father who loosens his belt in order to deliver a beating – to leave the reader with an image and experience of terror. The last words seem to enact their own content: simultaneously, we picture the punishing father, belt off, ‘sighingly expand’ as the sentence, too, sighs and expands reaching, at last, its full stop.
—Stephanie Grant, author of The Passion of Alice and Map of Ireland