Tag Archives: Great Sentences

This week in great sentences

Themes this week: Art and influence


Imitation is the sincerest form of show business.
-Roseanne Barr, “And I should know,” NY Magazine, 5/15


Think about NOT waiting your turn. Instead, think about getting together with friends that you admire, or envy. Think about entrepeneuring. Think about NOT waiting for a company to call you up. Think about not giving your heart to a bunch of adults you don’t know. Think about horizontal loyalty. Think about turning to people you already know, who are your friends, or friends of their friends and making something that makes sense to you together, that is as beautiful or as true as you can make it. … You will build a body of work, but you will also build a body of affection, with the people you’ve helped who’ve helped you back.
-Radiolab host Robert Krulwich, commencement speech to Berkeley Journalism School’s Class of 2011, 5/7. Continue reading

The seclusion of the darkened den

Here’s the problem with Google Reader: sometimes you star items and totally forget about them until, uh, a year and a half later. So anyway, here’s this quote I really liked from Morrissey, via P4k’s Echo Chamber:

“I think there’s just something about the printed word. It’s all very well meeting and speaking with people, and generally it goes quite well. But when the writer has the seclusion of the darkened den, some strange monster develops within him, and something breaks out of his stomach.”

— Morrissey, on music critics (or possibly aliens). (via Filter)

This Week in Great Sentences

Theme this week: over-indulgence


But thanks to Huffington, all self-respecting journalists—especially those who fear for their jobs—have abandoned those anxieties and are happy to chase Arianna’s SEO Speedwagon wherever it may go. They’ll even drive over inconvenient journalistic shibboleths that stand between them and their page-view destinations.

-Jack Shafer, SEO Speedwagon: The rapid rise and sale of Arianna Huffington’s Post, Slate, Feb. 7


That’s a bit like how social networks get built. (Just imagine if Tom had also schooled them in the networking opportunities of the user-generated endeavor: “You’re not just painting a fence. You’re building an audience around your personal brand.”)

-David Carr, At Media Companies, a Nation of Serfs, NYT, Feb. 13. Continue reading

This Week in Great Sentences

been sloooooow posting here of late, but the posts will be coming faster, I promise I promise.

Theme this week: clowning around.


Within minutes, Cruise is screeching with desperate hilarity, teeth bared, a wreck, and Letterman is sitting back—replete, as if he has swallowed Cruise’s self possession. Mission accomplished.

-James Parker, “Infinite Jesters,” The Atlantic, December 2010.


The quotes from it, though accurately transcribed, are made to function as lies by being placed in an utterly mendacious context. Bruck’s article is the “source” of these smears only in the sense that the brooks of the Catskills are the “source” of New York City’s sewage.

-Hendrik Hertzberg, “Puppetry,” New Yorker, on defending the New Yorker’s profile of George Soros against its use by Glenn Beck, Nov. 29.  Continue reading

This Week in Great Sentences

Theme this week: determination

Mr. White:
If you get that story done, I’ll take steps to get you a new cushion for your chair.
H. W. Ross

For our readers we will do no less.

-New Yorker founder Harold Ross writing to encourage E.B. White to finish an essay, as quoted in “A Note to Our Readers,” about the release of the magazine’s iPad app, Oct. 4

I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

-Hunter S. Thompson, Oct. 1, 1958, in a cover letter to the Vancouver Sun made public this week, via BoingBoing. Continue reading

This Week (or so) in Great Sentences

Theme this week: the enemy is everywhere.


nuclear wessels?

There were 11 alleged Russian agents arrested this week, under accusations that they’d been living as Americans while reporting back to the mothercountry. But mostly we care about the hot one.

-Monica Hesse, “Alleged Russian agent Anna Chapman could have warmed up any Cold War night,” Washington Post, 7/1/10


So if the only IP address StatCounter has to report is your own, and your comments section features a chorus of crickets rivaling that field behind the cabin you visited last weekend (and posted about in painful detail), face it: Your blog is that pathetic, friendless kid who skulks under the jungle gym at recess and reads Lois Lowry books in the bathroom during lunchtime.

– Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz of Stuff Hipsters Hate,  “Is your blog the unpopular kid?” CNN Netiquette, 6/29/10 Continue reading

This Week in Great Sentence

One sentence from “Let the Great World Spin,” by Colum McCann. You should consider not reading the below if you are planning to read this book, and, since I am now informing you that you should very much read this book, this entire post is moot and I just spent a long time transcribing this for no apparent reason:


Yet the plain fact of the matter is that it happened and there was nothing we could do to stop it—Corrigan at the wheel of the van, having spent asll day down in the Tombs and the courtrooms of lower Manhattan, driving north up along the FDR, with Jazzlyn beside him in the passenger seat, her yellow high heels and her neon swimsuit, her choker tight around her neck, and Tillie had been locked away on a robbery charge, she had taken the rap, and my brother was giving Jazzlyn a lift back to her kids, who were more than keyrings, more than a flip in the air, and they were going fast along the East River, hemmed in by the buildings and the shadows, when Corrigan went to change lanes, maybe he hit the indicator maybe he didn’t, maybe he was dizzy or tired or out of sorts, maybe he’d gotten some medicine that slowed him or fogged his vision, maybe he tapped the brake, maybe he cut it too hard, maybe he was gently humming a bit of a tune, who knows, but it was said that he was clipped in the rear by a fancy car, some old antique, nobody saw the driver, a gold vehicle going about its everyday applause of itself, it caught the back end of his van, nudged it slightly, but it sent Corrigan into a spin across all three lanes, like some big brown dancing thing, elegant for a split second, and I think now of Corrigan gripping the steering wheel, frightened, his eyes large and tender, while Jazzlyn beside him screamed, and her body tightened, her neck tensed, it all flashing in front of her—her short vicious life—and the van skidded on the dry roadway, hit a car, hit a newspaper truck, and then smashed headlong into the guardrail at the edge of the highway, and Jazzlyn went head-first through the windshield, no safety belt, a body already on its way to heaven, and Corrigan was smashed back by the steering wheel, which caught his chest and shattered his breastbone, his head rebounding off the spidery glass, bloody, and then he was whipped back into the seat with such force that the metal frame of the seat shattered, a thousand pounds of moving steel, the van still spinning from one side of the road to the other, and Jazzyln’s body, only barely dressed, made a flying arc through the air, fifty or sixty miles per hour, and she smashed in a crumpled heap by the guardrail, one foot bent in the air as if stepping upwards, or wanting to step upwards, and the only thing of hers they found later in the van was a yellow stiletto, with a Bible sitting canted right beside it, having fallen out of the glove compartment, one on top of the other and both of them littered with glass, and Corrigan, still breathing, was bounced around and smashed sideways so that he finished up with his body twisted down in the dark well by the accelerator and the brake, and the engine whirled as if it still wanted to go fast and be stopped at the same time, all of Corrigan’s weight on both pedals.