Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I got this idea from MizB at Should be Reading. Take a book you're reading and feature a single sentence in a blogpost. MizB says "randomly chosen," but I thought I'd pick one that struck me as special in some way.

I've been reading Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which was a much heralded book in its day. Wilder's plays have always been among my favorites, but I had never read any of his novels till now. "Bridge" is one of those books that has sat on my shelf practically all my life it seems, but I'm just now getting to it.

Anyway, Wilder is a true craftsman with words. Some of his sentences are quite beautiful, and there is in all hiswork a great wisdom about human nature and about mortality. Here's one that is perhaps not exactly beautiful, but a gem of characterization.
He possessed the six attributes of the adventurer--a memory for names and faces, with aptitude for altering his own; the gift of tongues; inexhaustible invention; secrecy; the talent for falling into conversation with strangers; and the freedom from conscience which springs from a contempt for the dozing rich he prayed upon.

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