Sentences of the Year

Stephen Schenkenberg
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“And so it happened again, the daily miracle whereby interiority opens out and brings to bloom the million-petalled flower of being here, in the world, with other people.”

On Beauty, Zadie Smith


“And we knew then that whatever was being de­cided, it would be decided under the influence and afterglow of you know, which meant that it would occur in an absence of reason, that it would be undertaken quite happily by our mother, and that it would be thoroughly flawed.”

The Company Car, C. J. Hribal


When I came into your life your life was over.”

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy


“During the long crawl towards the light at Gypsy Corner, he lowers his window to taste the scene in full—the bovine patience of a jam, the abrasive tang of icy fumes, the thunderous idling machinery in six lanes east and west, the yellow street light bleaching colour from the bodywork, the jaunty thud of entertainment systems, and red tail lights stretching way ahead into the city, white headlights pouring out of it.”

Saturday, Ian McEwan


“Kafka’s humor—not only not neurotic but ­anti-neurotic, heroically sane—is, finally, a religious humor, but religious in the manner of Kierkegaard and Rilke and the Psalms, a harrowing spirituality against which even Ms. O’Connor’s bloody grace seems a little bit easy, the souls at stake pre-made.”

Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace


“Broken windows lie like a tattered dress over the evacuated city, hemorrhaging what remains of its long life of sounds: a radio denying the imminent arrival of Russian troops, the echoing report of a suicide, a phonograph whispering the illegal syncopations of American jazz.”

Forgetfulness, Michael Mejia


“I embraced my solitude without Jane, or my solitude in the exclusive company of her absence, as eagerly as I had embraced all day so many men and women.”

The Best Day the Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall


“Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion


“Yes sir, boss, I will be what you want me to be, and when you climb into your automobile at five o’clock in the morning with Miss Ann on your arm, and a gentle buzzing in your veins, the lights will be turned off, and the shoes will be eased from my burning feet, and the spit shaken out of my instrument, and the tie loosened from my fat neck, and we men will appear where previously only shades lived, and we men will speak to one another in grave low tones, cutting fatigue with relief and anticipating short bouts of loving before the chain of streetlights blink out one after the other and the sun clears the horizon and sleep finally reaches down and smoothes our furrowed American brows, bringing us some kind of peace until the afternoon is new and strong and full again.”

Dancing in the Dark, Caryl Phillips


“Enough for me to keep our Goose and in myself the truth of him and the dogs grow fat and eat of him and by the silken sweet of glue we spread across our palms to peel the skin I feel him with me and feel of the seeds that split in me and of the living harvest, shell and hide and cloven tongue and of the fruit and fowl we strew the yolky eyes the deer we cull the great whales flensed for blubber.”

—­What Begins with Bird, Noy Holland

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