Beautiful Sentences: John Updike

Real life now commences, they are informed; the Eden of public education has shut its garden gate. A garden, Levy reflects, of rote teaching dully ignored, of the vicious and ignorant dominating the timid and dutiful, but a garden nevertheless, a weedy patch of hopes, a rough and ill-tilled seedbed of what this nation wants itself to be.

John Updike, Terrorist.

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The Big Countdown

My number went back up to 87 from 83, which is still less than my pre-drop life expectancy, but close enough that I can consider last year’s drop to be the anomaly, although I can still do more to improve my health and perhaps get a little bit more time with my family.

In the last year I’ve had a few publications (including my first poems) and started working on a new novel which is coming slowly but I think is some good stuff. I’ve also officially let my first novel fall into the status of being trunked (although I still have stacks of marked up manuscript lurking near my desk which should get collected and put into a box in the basement for my children to deal with in 38 years).

Beautiful Sentences: Harry Levin

The history of the realistic novel shows that fiction tends towards autobiography. The increasing demands for social and psychological detail that are made upon the novelist can only be satisfied out of his own experience. The forces which make him an outsider focus his observation upon himself.

Harry Levin, James Joyce: A Critical Introduction.

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Beautiful Sentences: John Updike

Real life now commences, they are informed; the Eden of public education has shut its garden gate. A garden, Levy reflects, of rote teaching dully ignored, of the vicious and ignorant dominating the timid and dutiful, but a garden nevertheless, a weedy patch of hopes, a rough and ill-tilled seedbed of what this nation wants itself to be.

John Updike, Terrorist.

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Beautiful Sentences: Dorothy M. Richardson

People thought it was silly, almost wrong to look at the end of a book. But if it spoilt a book, there was something wrong about the book. If it was finished and the interest gone when you know who married who, what was the good of reading it at all?

Dorothy M. Richardson, Honeycomb.

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Beautiful Sentences: Kelly Link

Now that we are married, we will have the same dreams.

Kelly Link, “Shoe and Marriage.”

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Beautiful Sentences: Raymond Carver

In addition to being in love, we like each other and enjoy one another’s company. She’s easy to be with.

Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”

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Beautiful Sentences: Christian Wiman

Intellectuals and artists concerned with faith tend to underestimate the radical, inviolable innocence it requires. We read and read, write long, elaborate essays and letters, engage in endlessly inflected philosophical debates. We talk of poetry as prayer, artistic discipline as a species of religious devotion, doubt as the purest form of faith. These ideas are not inherently false. Indeed, there may be a deep truth in them. But the truth is, you might say, on the other side of innocence—permanently. That is, you don’t once pass through religious innocence into the truths of philosophy or theology or literature, any more than you pass through the wonder of childhood into the wisdom of age.

Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss.

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Dewey Decimal Project: 478.2 SHA Essential Latin: The language and life of ancient Rome

It’s been a long time Essential Latinsince I studied Latin, but I figured that it’s been long enough that a refresher will be welcome, but short enough that the refresher won’t be redundant.

Sharpley incorporates a bit of cultural background alongside the language lessons which provides a nice supplement. This is generally connected to the Latin readings that compose part of each chapter which are perhaps the most notable aspect of the text—each chapter includes a number of short Latin passages (typically 1–3 sentences) with supplementary vocabulary following each. On occasion, the passage is slightly bowdlerized to make it more accessible to the student, but it’s an opportunity to actually read classical texts. Unfortunately, there is an unspoken assumption that the student will learn that supplementary vocabulary alongside the regularly enumerated vocabulary of each chapter which meant that, since I failed to do this in the early chapters, the Latin readings in the later chapters became increasingly inscrutable.

My only other complaint was that Sharpley has a tendency to skip over some aspects of grammar central to the lesson, choosing instead to point the student to the appendix where the appropriate declension or conjugation is completely enumerated. I can understand the urge to keep the page count from ballooning unnecessarily, but forcing the student into the back of the book like this feels a bit like a gratuitous economy.

Overall, with some minor adjustments, this would be an excellent introduction to Latin and I would love to try rebuilding my Latin from a more grammatically comprehensive text than this is.

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Beautiful Sentences: Nathan Englander

His mother sometimes looked our way as she came and went from the house. She didn’t reveal anything that we were mature enough to read—only kept on, often with a palm pressed to the small of her back.

Nathan Englander, “How We Avenged the Blums.”

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