savoury sentences from several sources, part 3


“I imagined her at her closet, deciding what you’d wear to go learn something about your child that just might break your heart.”

from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,  by Karen Joy Fowler


“She said it with just a hint of bitterness in her voice, enough that I could taste it, like a squeeze of lemon in a glass of milk.”

— from ‘Serendipity’ in the collection Flesh & Blood,  by Michael Crummey


“She had no children and beautiful shoes in a range of colours, and each pair had its own matching bag.”

— from ‘The Green Road’,  by Anne Enright


“It surprises me that he could have seen any delight in Toby Whittaker, an exhausted-looking young man who, after shaking hands, said not a word from first to last, but whose silence emitted a faint air of disaster and gin.”

— from ‘A Serious Widow’,  by Constance Beresford-Howe


“Recently, everything around me felt familiar yet amiss, like the first time you ride in the back seat of your own car.”

— from  Let the Northern Lights Erase your Name,  by Vendela Vida


“The smoke in the dark looked like a dove that whispered the future to saints in paintings.”

— from Lullabies for Little Criminals,  by Heather O’Neill


“Home was something that you could fit into a suitcase and move in a taxi for ten dollars.”

— from Lullabies for Little Criminals,  by Heather O’Neill


“The mixture of cafe au lait and impatience was producing an exquisite vibration.”

— from Still Life,  by Louise Penny


“The problem is he married a Pole. Turns out she doesn’t know her arse from her elbow. Doesn’t even keep Keen’s mustard on hand.”

— from Are you Ready to be Lucky?,  by Rosemary Nixon


“That was the trouble with grown-ups: they always wanted to be the centre of attention, with their battering rams of food, and their sleep routines and their obsession with making you learn what they knew and forget what they had forgotten.”

— from Mother’s Milk,  by Edward St. Aubyn


“They were not merely sentences but compressed moments that burst when you read them.”

— from the essay, ‘Thank you, Esther Forbes’, by George Saunders


More sentences here 710px-Woman_reading,_1930s

and here.



savoury sentences from several sources — part 1


“A single moment, a day, can shift into something profound by the reading of a single perfect sentence at the perfect time.” ~ Matilda Magtree, aka me

“The boy was said to be a cousin of Kathleen Burnham and was up from New Hampshire, working at the sawmill, though he was no bigger and looked no older than an adolescent sugar maple.” ~ from Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (Random House. 2008)

“Physical pain, like a poultice, has a way of drawing out what is hidden in the heart.” ~ from the essay ‘A Container of Light’, by Lisa Martin-Demoor, TNQ, Fall 2011

“What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors.” ~ from Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen (The New Press, 1995)

“She sits at the edge of the narrow cot, neatly made and covered tautly with a white embroidered blanket, the kind that, if you run your hand over it with your eyes closed, feels like a skin disease, tiny white embroidered circles that pop up like pimples.” ~ from ‘A Well-Imagined Life’, in the collection Can You Wave Bye Bye, Baby?, by Elyse Gasco (McClelland & Stewart, 2001)

“It was the kind of party where no one ate the chicken skin.” ~ from The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright (McClelland & Stewart, 2011)

“Because she is ten years old under an open blue sky, because there is not reason ever to arrive anywhere, because she has never felt exactly this way before—this loose in the world, this capable of escape.” ~ from The Juliet Stories, by Carrie Snyder (House of Anansi, 2012)

“Jake and I grew up without a mother, which wasn’t that bad, although we ate a lot of boiled peas.” ~ from the story ‘After Summer’, by Alice Peterson (The Journey Prize Stories,  2007)

“It was no more than a peep, the sound you might make if a butterfly lands on your hand.” ~ from the story ‘A Bolt of White Cloth’, by Leon Rooke

“There’s aggression even in the way they kiss each other so flagrantly, like they’re trying to suck the other’s gums out, like an old horse chasing a lost scrap of ginger nut biscuit down the palm of your hand and up your sleeve.” ~ from Malarky, by Anakana Schofield(Biblioasis, 2012)


savoury sentences, part 2

this is not a review: the forgotten waltz by anne enright

Oh, Anne Enright. I do love your words so. The way they lie there on the page, end to end, magically forming sentences. I’m sure it’s all quite effortless of course, this brilliant way you have of conveying things. I have no doubt it’s as simple as wandering about your life, observing, thinking, mulling, fashioning bon mots almost accidentally as you shine your shoes or select grapes from the fruit monger’s stalls, and then having them fall out of your head, the words I mean, clunk clunk, onto the pages at just the right time in just the right order. Oh look! you might exclaim, That’s exactly what I meant to say, exactly what I was thinking, I don’t need to change a comma… someone peel me a grape…

The Forgotten Waltz, Enright’s most recent novel, begins simply, with a glance over a shoulder and a child. It’s classic girl meets boy. Gina meets Sean. Both are married. Both of them not especially unhappy or happy, not especially well matched or mismatched.  And then there’s the child—his, Evie, who is not quite right—a tendency towards seizures or something never clearly defined—a situation that parallels Evie’s eventual role in Gina’s life, and vice versa. There is little emotion expressed yet it’s all about emotion, driven by a thirst for it and then regret in its inevitable passing and morphing into something resembling real life. The way things do.

What gives the book a delicious tilt is the vantage point Enright chooses to tell the story, i.e. from Gina’s current status happily (happily?) living with Sean. The thrust of the story is her recollection of the affair, its building blocks and motivations, the changes that occur, things given up and left behind in the pursuit of what feels like love and in fact may well be. The eager or reluctant, sometimes regrettable, tradeoffs and surprises en route, hidden costs and, most importantly, the thing no one ever thinks of: the landscape at the end of the day— the stuff that comes with as well as that which is forgotten once the music stops and the lights come on.

… In which case, Evie’s room is like something after the tide went out: dirty feathers, scraps of paper, endless bits of cheap, non-specific plastic, and some that are quite expensive:

Do you know how much those fucking things cost? says Sean, going through the compacted filth of the Hoover bag, looking for a game from her Nintendo.

My stuff, on the other hand, does not matter. A Chanel compact, skittering across the floor, my phone pushed off the arm of the sofa, the battery forever after temperamental.

Gawd, says Evie.

She does not say ’sorry’, that would be too personal.

Evie was always a bit of a barreller, a lurcher; her elbows are very close to her unconscious. At one stage they were going to have her checked for dyspraxia, by which they just meant ‘clumsiness’, but I guarantee you I have seen her move with great finesse. In this house, she is only clumsy around things that belong to me.

She eats nothing she is asked to eat, and everything that is forbidden. But she eats. Which I consider a minor miracle. She filches, she sneaks and crams. She waits—a bit like myself indeed—until her father is not there. The place we meet most often is at the fridge door.

Two months ago, when Sean was at the gym and Evie was complaining I had finished all the mayonnaise, I tossed my bag on the kitchen table and said, ‘Why don’t you go and buy your own fucking food?’

Not pretty, but true.

Evie looked at me, as though noticing me for the first time. Later that day, she said something to me—something that wasn’t just a whine, like, ‘Why don’t you have Sky TV?’

She said, I can’t believe you have so many shoes.

And I had to leave the room to stuff my knuckles in my mouth, and pretend to bite into them, behind the door.

—from The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright (McClelland & Stewart)