Jump out of bed in your underwear
I have an essay in today's New York Times Book Review, on books that are one sentence long (or thereabouts, as the case often—always?—is). Happiest discovery: Jerzy Andrzejewski's “The Gates of Paradise” (1960)—158 pages!
Here's the beginning of the piece:
“No book worth its salt is meant to put you to sleep,” says the garrulous shoemaker who narrates the Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal’s “Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age” (1964), “it’s meant to make you jump out of bed in your underwear and run and beat the author’s brains out.” Thirty-three pages into what appears to be an unbroken highway of text, the reader might well wonder if that’s a mission statement or an invitation. “Dancing Lessons” unfurls as a single, sometimes maddening sentence that ends after 117 pages without a period, giving the impression that the opinionated, randy old cobbler will go on jawing ad infinitum. But the gambit works. His exuberant ramblings gain a propulsion that would be lost if the comma splices were curbed, the phrases divided into sentences. And there’s something about that slab of wordage that carries the eye forward, promising an intensity simply unattainable by your regularly punctuated novel.
(This is the third of three articles that kept me occupied through much of the fall. The first is here, the second is here!)