The Year In Great Sentences


This year was a lousy one in many respects, but out of the murk and mire emerged some really good writing. Not just writing in books, either: Essays, reporting, and even song lyrics all cropped up this year with lines worth remembering. (My favorite? “He won’t just think about how unbearable it is that things keep breaking, that you can never fucking outrun entropy.” I wrote about it here.) For our year in review, we polled some editors, writers, and readers about their favorite sentences of the year.



Andrew Martin, Brooklyn contributor and freelance writer

Sentence: “About a week after Danny’d put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger and a couple days after his lame orthodox funeral at our childhood church, I went for a walk along a street of patched potholes that runs along Lake Union (near where, a year or so in the future, a future I was sure had ended tragically the night Danny shot himself, my other brother Mike would pull a similar stunt, jumping off the Aurora Bridge and living to tell about it, thus revealing to me the comic, the vaudevillian underside of suicide) and saw a scavenging crow jabbing its beak into the underside of an injured robin.”

Where it’s from: The essay “Salinger and Sobs” in Charles D’Ambrosio’s collection of new and collected essays, Loitering.

Why it’s great: D’Ambrosio is a master short story writer, and his essays, long out of print and/or scattered to the winds, are, it turns out, very good as well, in no small part thanks to off-kilter, mind-jarring sentences like the one above, which summarizes many of the concerns (family, suicide, um, glibness) that haunt this troubling, excellent collection.


  1. I prefer this one from Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers:
    “I heard the sonic rip of a military jet, like a giant trowel being dragged through wet concrete, but saw only blue above, a raw and saturated blue that seemed cut from an inner wedge of sky.”


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