Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Beautiful Prose

Almost as much as a good story, I love beautiful prose. An artfully crafted sentence can send a shiver of joy through me; it can induce feelings which I probably ought not to discuss in polite society.

But here, I reckon it's okay.

If you haven't read Annie Proulx, for God's sake, get started. Here are two samples from her stunning short story "The Mud Below," collected in Close Range: Wyoming Stories:

"He knew he had little talent for friendship or affection, stood armored against love, though when it did come down on him later it came like an axe and he was slaughtered by it."


"Emanating from him was a kind of carved-wood quietude common to those who have been a long time without sex, out of the traffic of the world."

Maybe they don't do it for you, but those sentences strike me as finely cut diamonds. The strong imagery, the startling and yet completely appropriate juxtaposition of love and slaughter, of lovelessness and interior focus, and the crisp and elegant precision of each sentence are a marvel to me.

As an added bonus, the book has a lovely painting by William Matthew on the cover.

If you love good prose, you need to read this woman's work.


At 9:22 AM, Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

I've always been in love with her prose. She has a knack not only for image, but rhythm. And somehow both are infused with everything the story is about too. Really amazing.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Tim Akers said...

I'll put it on my list. My ridiculously long, unmanageable list.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Chris: absolutely. I can find no mention of it, but I feel certain that she must write poetry as well, to have achieved so precise a control of the language.

Tim: You won't be sorry! At least these are short stories.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, it's really a good book to share and read. I'm a teather from China, just dropped in on your blog casually. :-)


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