Literary critic, legal scholar, and New York Times online columnist Stanley Fish’s just released a guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language. How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
His favorite five sentences:
- John Bunyan (from The Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678): “Now he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it, began crying after him to return, but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, Life! Life! eternal life.”
- Jonathan Swift (from A Tale of a Tub, 1704): “Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance for the worse.”
- Walter Pater (from The Renaissance, 1873): “To such a tremulous wisp constantly re-forming itself on the stream, to a single sharp impression, with a sense in it, a relic more or less fleeting, of such moments gone by, what is real in our lives fines itself down.”
- Ford Madox Ford (from The Good Soldier, 1915): “And I shall go on talking in a low voice while the sea sounds in the distance and overhead the great black flood of wind polishes the bright stars.”
- Gertrude Stein (from Lectures in America, 1935): “When I first began writing I felt that writing should go on I still do feel that it should go on but when I first began writing I was completely possessed by the necessity that writing should go on and if writing should go on what had commas and semi-colons to do with it what had commas to do with it what had periods to do with it what had small letters and capitals to do with writing going on which was at the time the most profound need I had in connection with writing.”
Produced by the New York Times Magazine and directed by Solve Sundsbo, Fourteen Actors Acting answers the question ‘What kind of story can be told in just one minute?’
The brief black and white clips accompany the black-and-white portraits Sundsbo shot for “The Scene Makers: Actors Who Defined Cinema in 2010,” in the Hollywood Issue of The New York Times Magazine.
In their respective shorts, Matt Damon goes on a rant; Javier Bardem smashes things up; Michael Douglas reflects; Miss Portman undresses; Vincent Cassel dances and James Franco seduces himself.
What can be said in six words or less? Quite a lot. A limitless source for brainstorming smithmag.net showcases tiny stories with big hearts. Browse through the site and you’ll notice not all projects are limited to six words. A current project gathering material for an upcoming book “The Moment,” will be a compilation of stories of how a single moment changed ones life in a profound way. Not limited to six words the stories can be a few words or as long as 750 words. They can also be told told via a single or short series of images.
Pocket-sized and poignant, a published collection of the best Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure tells a lot about love and heartbreak in six words and the first printed compilation It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure are both examples of Smith Magazines earlier compilations and a great example of bottom up publishing.
Both the site and the books are best read in short bursts or bring with you to fire up some conversations.