In praise of long sentences
But now I'm reading two books (rereading one, actually) that go in the opposite direction. Their long, baroque sentences are both gorgeous places in which to get lost, and fine settings that emphasize the punch of the brief sentences that surround them.
Here's the protagonist of That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda:
"Of medium height, rather rotund as to physique, or perhaps a bit squat, with black hair, thick and curly, which sprang forth from his forehead at the halfway point, as if to shelter his two metaphysical knobs from the fine Italian sun, he had a somnolent look, a heavy, lumbering walk, a slightly dull manner, like a person fighting a laborious digestion; dressed as well as his slender government salary allowed him to dress, with one or two little stains of olive oil on his lapel, almost imperceptible, however, like a souvenir of the hills of his Molise."And here's just part of the first sentence of Declan Burke's Slaughter's Hound:
"It was a rare fine night for a stroll down by the docks, the moon plump as a new pillow in an old-fashioned hotel and the undertow in the turning tide swushing its ripples silvery-green and a bird you’ve never heard before chirring its homesick tale of a place you might once have known and most likely now will never see ... "If I tell you that the novel's second sentence is "It was that kind of evening, alright," you'll know what delightful fun long sentences can be.
Long sentences: Good or bad? Discuss.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012