Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Random sentences in random novels

Having written a few reviews lately with increasing dissatisfaction, I realise that what I would really like is to review how a novel is written at a very local level rather than outline the story (stories don't interest me really). Each sentence seems to say something about the whole. I suspect the writers I prefer know this and those that I don't like don't.

So, to find out what might be revealed in this way, I picked up a three novels from three large piles on a colleague's desk (thanks J!) - popular novels, genre novels, fashionable literary hits - and opened each to a random page, usually two thirds in. I then copied out the first descriptive sentence - that is, not dialogue. All were written in English. Can anybody guess from whence they came?
She turned away from him to gaze at the ceiling.

Thomas watched his father swill straight from the carafe of day-old, cold coffee.

He did not notice that the gentleman was at least as uncomfortable as himself.
Then come the three picked at random in the English novels in my collection (precious few!).
They nest in those grass bowers and lose the clutch at a fell swoop.

He stands at the window, his face in the shadow of the wall.

A month has passed.
Well, that didn't help much. But I do so much like sentences.

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