John D tried to be charitable – a man who’d steal another man’s teeth must need them for something – but after a while he could not help but fantasize about finding the thief and guiding his wrists through a pedal-driven band saw.
—Kevin Moffett, from One Dog Year
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 first six words of this sentence sail across the sky like a banner pulled by a bi-plane: John D publishing himself to himself, ego the size of an ocean liner, a man who sees no conflict between the noblesee oblige he ascribes to himself and the yeoman-like malice that sustains it.
The back half of the sentence Moffett pares down to an almost cartoonish simplicity:
the paved-smooth-of-any-punctuation straight-away, the simple declarative structure, the deliberate rhythm (finding the thief and guiding his wrists through a ) that accelerates
(pedal-driven) into the double stress of the emphatic final word (band saw).
Note also how he crops the image to keep our eyes pinned to the wrist alone (the target for the blade) even as he marries it to a verb that sounds almost benevolent … a guiding. Call it a “phantom trajectory” that sets us up to be surprised by not only the shocker – the band saw -- but also by the little bonus detail, that delicious little grace note of gratuitous malice at the end: pedal-driven!
—Alan Sincic is the author of The Babe and Sugar