One Sentence

Ben Dolnick
Explaining and appreciating great sentences from books
Created 02 Jul 2021
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  • Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication
    29 Jun 2022 5 3
    “‘You’d probably love to have a second grandchild…’” You are, unfortunately, trapped in a dungeon. But at least you’re in good company. Hundreds of prisoners are milling around the dank space, and man...
  • John Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure
    22 Jun 2022 10 3
    “The word debacle suggests the going-wrong of an elaborately conceived plan: a disaster that somehow leaves the principal parties not only having lost what they were aware that they were risking but m...
  • Jonathan Miller, On Further Reflection
    15 Jun 2022 8 3
    “Sensations happen in a rather strange part of the world, so strange that, strictly speaking, they don’t happen in the world as such — at least, not in the way that explosions happen — but in an isola...
  • T.C. Boyle, "Chicxulub"
    08 Jun 2022 6 3
    “But my daughter.” Middle school science experiment: take a battery, a lightbulb, a few pieces of wire, and a potato. Using just these things — using all of these things — get the bulb to light up. So...
  • Alice and Martin Provensen, Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm
    01 Jun 2022 5 3
    “Her father’s name was Potato Who Disappeared.” Naming one’s fictional offspring, like naming one’s actual offspring, is an invitation to paralysis. Should you go for something symbolic and discreetly...
  • Joseph Conrad, "Youth"
    25 May 2022 5 2
    “I remember the drawn faces, the dejected figures of my two men, and I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more — the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, t...
  • Dan Chaon, Ill Will
    18 May 2022 7 0
    “I was sitting in your mom’s car in the parking lot of the Kaiser Permanente building and smoking a joint when I saw a bunch of crows over in the corner near the fence.” No one reads better than a tee...
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods
    11 May 2022 11 2
    “Laura watched him do this, and then she watched him hang the meat on the nails in the hollow log.” Certain cultural phenomena pass by our stations without stopping. I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie....
  • Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
    04 May 2022 11 0
    “‘My affliction makes this difficult,’ he explained.” You’re at a buffet. One of those expensive, amusement park-esque ones with crab legs on crushed ice and a violently red-lit roast beef-carving sta...
  • Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing
    27 Apr 2022 6 4
    “Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance...
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