Gore Vidal

Favorite Passage

From Artful Sentences by Virginia Tufte – page 28.

This sentence has so much emotion tied into it that it almost feels like I have watched the movie already.  The first part of the sentence has such strong movement, rhythm, pacing, created by the confusion, the rain, the lightning—and then, it stopped. 

The juxtaposition of the semicolon here commands the stop.  It also allows the movement to carry on in a related, yet different thread.  Maybe the reality isn’t reality at all.  Maybe the man is dreaming? 

And, then he is brought out of his misshapen, perceived reality, brought back into the present moment with the confirmation of his suspicions brought forth by a lover’s moan.

The point of this sentence is to show how a short intransitive verb can drive a point home after a long passage with force and conviction.  He fled.

“He stood in the rain, unable to move, not knowing if the lovers were real or simply creations of the lightning and when it stopped, they stopped; unless of course he was dreaming one of those dreams from which he would awaken in that pain which is also sharpest pleasure, having loved in sleep. But the cold rain was real; so was the sudden soft moan from the poolhouse door. He fled.” (Gore Vidal, Washington, D.C.)

Tufte, Virginia. Artful Sentences. Graphics Press. 2007

Vidal, Gore. Washington D.C., Vintage Books. 2000


Baldwin, James

Of all the sentences I have read, these remain my favorite (despite the punctuation problems).

From “Sonny’s Blues”

 “These boys, now, were living as we’d been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities.”

2016 – James Baldwin’s short story Sonny’s Blues represents a time in America where getting a decent job was really difficult for African Americans. 

Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. The Ontario Review: New York, 2013 Google Books 482-514 Web. 8 Mar 2016.