He said she went around with her feelings out in front of her with an arm around the feelings’ windpipe and a Glock 9mm. to the feelings’ temple like a terrorist with a hostage, daring you to shoot.
—David Foster Wallace, from Infinite Jest
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
Trained as a mathematician, Wallace prefers recursion (think of mirrors facing one another) to simple repetition. Here he embeds a metaphor in a simile: Orin's mother holds her feelings and the feelings are held like a terrorist holds a hostage. Orin's description of his mother is mordant: the hard Glock is brought to bear on soft sentiment, his mother's feelings. There's something ridiculous about feelings being held hostage, and a zany bathos results. The sentence is also typically, long-winded Wallacian, strung together with a series of prepositional phrases that build tension before the sudden shift in pace and succinct final clause "daring you to shoot" terminate like a shot.
—Louis Campana is at work on Gulag’s Orchestra, a novel