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 the first is just a sentence, from Trajectory by Richard Russo, a recent book of his short stories. “Because people cling to folly as if it were their most prized possession, defending it, sometimes with violence, against the possibility of wisdom.”

The second is a paragraph from a book by a Jewish woman who masqueraded as a gentile and married a Nazi to get through the war. She is talking with an acquaintance who is telling her about her life.

” ‘Let me tell you we had some hard times when I was a kid. For twelve years Papa had no steady job. We lived on charity mostly. Then, when our dear Führer came to power, things got much better. Just about all the young people we knew joined the Hitler Youth. When I was fifteen I went to a Nazi Party banquet, and they served rolls with butter.’ Is that the reason? I wondered. Is that why they averted their eyes, made themselves blind? For the butter?” from The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer.

The third is from a book by Carlo Rovelli (translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Sigre), Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. He is talking about Einstein’s discovery that “space” and the “gravitational field” are one in the same.

“It’s a moment of enlightenment. A momentous simplification of the world: space is no longer something distinct from matter–it is one of the ‘material’ components of the world. An entity that undulates, flexes, curves, twists. We are not contained within an invisible, rigid infrastructure: we are immersed in a gigantic, flexible snail shell. The sun bends space around itself. The Earth does not turn around it because of a mysterious force but because it is racing directly in a space that inclines, like a marble that rolls in a funnel. There are no mysterious forces generated at the center of the funnel; it is the curved nature of the walls that causes the marble to roll. Planets circle around the sun, and things fall because space curves.”

If you are at all interested in the physical world and how it works, this book is a gem.

 

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