Excellent Sentences

Tonight, I read “Bohemians” by George Saunders. I had a few other ideas about what I might write about tonight, but I can’t get Saunders’ excellent sentences out of my head. I’ll put in some examples below.

This sentence wins a prize from me for proving that sometimes an adverb can be transformative:

Mrs. Hopanlitski, on the other hand, was thin and joyfully made pipe-cleaner animals.

List seem to want to come in threes, and Saunders uses the rhythm of three to emphasize his largest point about the friendship:

This new, three-way friendship consisted of slumping in gangways, playing gloveless catch with a Wiffle, and trailing hopefully behind kids whose homes could be entered without fear of fiasco.

And a sentence that is true in the special way of fiction: I knew this before I read it, but I’d never put it this way to myself:

Ours was a liquor household, where you could ask a question over and over in utter sincerity and never get a straight answer.

Perhaps it would be possible to analyze what exactly makes each of these sentences great. What I know is that, as I was reading, each of this sentences made me stop and say, “Wow.”

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