This begins where so many others have ended, where the man and his wife are going to live the rest of their entire lives in perfect joy, so they arrive at the train station.
– Diane Williams, “Clean,” from Some Sexual Success Stories
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 sentence suggests the imperative mode: “Where” implies a location but Williams’ “where” is more of a when, a state of being. The patriarchal clichè, "the man and his wife," should alert the close reader. Why not, the woman and her husband? Williams begins her story not with love at first sight or the courtship that follows, but at the end, in wifehood, which she refers to as “perfect joy.” But then the final clause is introduced with a “so,” as if there is a logical causal relationship between the doubled “where” and “the train station." The irrationality of this “so” points back to the optimism of “perfect joy.” Only a newly-married couple might think of the rest of life in such an uncomplicated way. The falsely logical “so” paired with the innocence of “perfect joy” seems to promise a wry retrospective point of view, a narrator who has since learned something about life. And we haven't even gotten to sentence two.
–Annie DeWitt is the author of White Nights in Split Town City.