He waited in a room with others too dazed even to note the television that hissed and bristled in front of them or to turn the pages of the sticky, dog-eared magazines they held, from which they could have learned how to be happy, wealthy, and sexually appealing; they waited, like Otto, to learn instead what it was that destiny had already handed down: bad, not that bad, very, very bad.
—Deborah Eisenberg, from “Some Other, Better Otto”
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
In the Emergency Room, Otto waits to learn news of his mentally ill (schizophrenic?) sister Sharon. These two elaborated simple sentences are joined by a semi-colon, but also by anaphora: the repetition of waits yokes the halves and provides rhythm and momentum to the long sentence. The objects here are animated; the noisy television hissed and bristled, which rhymes but, more importantly, supplies the affect of the soon-to-be devastated others in the waiting room. The familiar magazine pages are dog-eared and sticky, the latter implying stickiness of life, of sexuality, which is withheld from the mentally ill in general and from Sharon in particular. Otto’s beloved sister will never be happy, wealthy, and sexually appealing only bad, not that bad, very, very bad.
—Stephanie Grant is the author of The Passion of Alice and Map of Ireland.