It is as though upon a face carved by a savage caricaturist a monstrous burlesque of all bereavement flowed.
—William Faulkner, from As I Lay Dying
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 a novel famous for a multi-pronged narrative perspective, this moment stands out for being beyond doubt from this particular point of view: Darl’s articulate take of his father’s grief-stricken face as they transport their mother’s decaying corpse to her hometown, to be buried with her own family. The permanence of “carved” lends a feeling of inevitability that outlasts the sentence. Whatever follows will be a clear and sober assessment; it will be etched definitively. The violence of “savage” sounds a note of truthfulness. And then the dangerously vivid metaphor takes off — the incongruous “monstrous burlesque” continues the performativity of the action followed by the mournfulness of “all bereavement flowed” which offers a process of understanding death as never ending. “Flowed” indeed feels like it’s still flowing.
—Philip Dean Walker's new collection is Better Davis and Other Stories (Squares and Rebels, May 2021)