One Sentence: a story about great sentences and great first sentences
This article on one sentence may veer in an entirely different direction, or not! I don’t always want to be predictable.
Journalists and newspapers often write articles on the first lines or one sentence of novels in holiday periods and the best of them are marvellous. Jane Austen and Tolstoy are always the first cabs off the rank.
Great opening sentences in fiction
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
— Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813
Comment: This one sentence isn’t a bad summary of the novel. Underlying it is an indictment of late 18th Century inheritance laws and the inability of women to make their own way in the world, of which Jane Austen was painfully aware. She covers this topic in all her books on 18th century county life and manners.
The Story: David Bader’s Haiku barely does a better job than Jane’s sentence.
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats — a muse on literature
Cast a cold Eye On Life, on Death. Horseman, pass by!
Epitaph on Yeats grave, Drumcliff, County Sligo
When I was living in Derry, I stopped at Yeats’ grave a couple of times on my way down the west coast. My memory of it was coloured by the season — terribly cold, grim and isolated.
We passed by in 2014, travelling up the west coast in an unlikely Indian summer. The grave was no longer isolated, nasty strip developments along the highway had almost caught up with it. The site was pleasant, warm and sunny with stunning views of the escarpment.
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Ireland and died in France. His remains were exhumed and moved to Ireland in 1948.
It is 1984. I am just shy of 19, Reagan is about to be re-elected in the US, Thatcher is administering the UK, and our new prime minister, Bob Hawke, along with his treasurer, Paul Keating, is planning his own quiet revolution in Australia.
Christos Tsiolkas The Monthly December 2016 — January 2017
1984 was the beginnings of the personal computer revolution. Apple’s 1984 advertisement at the superbowl was impudent but memorable. William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer seemed to show the way the future was going, at least to SciFi buffs. And, those of us interested in technology and societal change seemed to feel that we had a sort of handle on the future, we were excited by accelerating change and the ‘so called’ transition to post-industrialism.
Food writing 2: Articles I liked from Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky
Writing about food some fine writers and articles
In Food writing 1, I analysed Mark Kurlansky’s anthology Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, 2002. The book contains 234 articles, which covers the range of food writing from 500 BC to roughly the last thirty years. I said that I thought Kurlansky had done a good job of covering the breadth and depth of food writing. I then looked at the range of writers involved and gave a brief description of those who had four articles or more in the book.
My only qualms with Kurlansky’s range had to do with my wish to be entertained and informed through good writing. On these subjective criteria I chose 32 articles that I admired and another 40 I found of interest.
It is my task in this and the next article to give some descriptions and at least acknowledge articles in the book that I feel worthy of following up on. A somewhat daunting task I now realise.
I am hopelessly biased about Rork! by Avram Davidson. It is one of my favourite Classic Sci Fi books ever, particularly those of the short pulp variety, so far under discussion. Rork! is about 60,000 words. I am probably going to oversell it, be warned.