A perfect sentence

Every once in a while, I’ll come across one.

Like the opening to Garrison Keillor’s hilarious novel Pontoon, which I’m currently reading:

“Evelyn was an insomniac, so when they say she died in her sleep, you had to question that.”

It’s an exquisite piece of writing; funny, smart, a little mind-bending and right to the point.

It’s the latest in Keillor’s ‘Lake Wobegon’ series of novels, which present life in Midwestern small-town America like no one else. Besides, where else can you read about goings-on in Bemidji, Fargo-Moorhead, St. Cloud and of course the longed-for mecca that is Minneapolis?

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One thought on “A perfect sentence

  1. I think those sentences that reach the echelon of Perfect Sentence get there by virtue of their ability to contain so much in so little space. And of course there is that elusive quality that sets them apart too, that certain something that stirs your soul. When I was doing my MFA in fiction at NYU, a writer-instructor once talked for hours about the perfect sentence. Students were then encouraged to try writing a perfect sentence of their own. There were some very good sentences that came out of the class. I think it’s noteworthy that when asked to identify a perfect sentence, so many people go to the first sentences of great books. There is something in this that points to the importance of first impressions in writing. The perfect sentence exercise is a worthwhile one for any PR practitioner, because it demonstrates (painfully?) the power of each word you write. One of my all-time favourite perfect sentences in literature comes from Ms. Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”-Berardo Manari

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