Category Archives: Prose

The Exemplary Sentence: Primo Levi

At a friend’s suggestion, I have been reading Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. I rather skimmed through the early chapters about his relatives, but once I got to the chapter on Hydrogen, I was hooked. This is not a book … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I’m thinking I should call this “the exemplary paragraph” as it’s usually more than one sentence that catches my eye… but of course the paragraph is made up of sentences. In this case from three books I read recently. But … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I just finished Clever Girl, by Tessa Hadley.  I enjoyed this story of a woman in England, growing from child to teenager to mother to older woman largely because of the writing. Here are a couple of examples. First a … Continue reading

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More Baldwin: Whoever debases others is debasing himself

I was so impressed by The Fire Next Time, which I finished today, that I have to quote a few more passages. This after Baldwin’s meeting with Elijah Muhammad, talking in the car to a young follower about the idea of black nation … Continue reading

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Still relevant

I was inspired by the movie “I Am Not Your Negro” to reread a bit of James Baldwin. I find his essays every bit as lucid and apposite as I did in the late 60’s. Here’s a sample, in which … Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

I just finished The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam. I can’t say I read the whole book–a painful though extraordinary tour de force that covers one day through the eyes and voice of a young man in … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I’ve been reading Tim Gautreaux’s work for years now, and recently finished his latest book, Signals: New and Selected Stories. His books deal with the everyday travails of the lower or middle class. This excerpt is from a story about a junk … Continue reading

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from The Pigeon Tunnel

Larry is reading The Pigeon Tunnel, a collection of memories by John le Carre. Over breakfast yesterday he read this excerpt to me about the transition from the Soviet Union to Russia, which made me laugh out loud: …in 1993, criminalized … Continue reading

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Clive James, master of the exemplary sentence

It’s always a thrill when someone I’ve just discovered, and therefore think must be obscure, turns out to be well known. This happened recently with Clive James, a poet, critic, and essayist whose latest book on DVD collections was recently … Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

How have I missed Dennis Lehane until now? I just read (according to the book jacket) his 12th book, The Drop. It’s a stunner. It’s hard to know which sentences to quote. Here are a few. Chovka is a Chechen mob … Continue reading

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