Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All Souls by Christine Schutt

A well-written--lyrically written--occasionally slight but more often affecting novel of girls in high school, including one who is very ill. And it made me think about the confidence the author can instill in me with a well-crafted sentence.

"Mr Dell, in his daughter's room, stuck his face into the horn of a stargazer lily, one of a ... one of a...must have been a dozen, and he breathed in and said, Wasn't that something."

That's the opening. And what I especially like about the sentence is not the nice snippet of dialogue, the carefully identified flower, the stammering that evokes an emotional state but rather that it starts, "Mr. Dell, in his daughter's room..." instead of "In his daughter's room, Mr. Dell..." It's a small little thing that non-writers surely don't notice, but the little turn-around really worked on me. It makes me look at him, and wonder why he's in the room, instead of making me look at the room. And it sounds just a little odd, enough for me to pay more attention to the language than I would have otherwise.

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