Beautiful Sentences: Jeffery Eugenides

We knew that the girls were our twins, that we existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even deathm and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.

Jeffery Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides.

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Beautiful Sentences: Alberto Manguel

Every reader exists to ensure for a certain book a modest immortality. Reading is, in this sense, a ritual of rebirth.

Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night.

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“MeTube”: The Story Behind the Story

The genesis of “MeTube” was an actual YouTube video, “Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out” which initially presented itself as an actual pre-wedding video but was later revealed to be a promotional video for hair care products. Regardless of its veracity, the question that struck me about the video was, What happened after the camera turned off? Did the bride go through with the wedding? If not, how did everyone around her react to that development. This question of what happens after the story ends is one that often intrigues me and in this case I found it to be fertile ground.

The story has been kicking around for a while, having been workshopped first in a writers’ group I participated in around 2007–8 with Georgene Smith Goodin among others, and then resurrected when I took a class at Story Studio Chicago with Lee Strickland. It took a few bouts of submissions before it was finally accepted by Popshot for their Truth issue.

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“Q & A”: The Story Behind the Story

The genesis of “Q & ANewImage was a passing mention in Dava Sobel’s book Galileo’s Daughter, where, when she was discussing the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition, she mentions the surreal effect of the transcript in which all the questions are written in the third person but the answers given are in the first person. I found this intriguing and wanted to employ it in a story.

Since the original question and answer format came out of the inquisition, I imagined a sort of contemporary inquisition and decided that some betrayal in love would be the target of said inquisition. As for just who is asking the questions, I leave that to the imagination of the reader.

The first version of this story was workshopped in a class at UCLA Extension under the leadership of Adam Cushman. I took a revised version of it to my MFA program where it got further attention from TIbor Fischer, Kat Grilli, Steven Paul Lansky, Kossiwa Logan and Ryan McConkey

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Beautiful Sentences: Jac Jemc

She filled her clothes the way one fills one’s skin: exactly.

Jac Jemc, My Only Wife.

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Beautiful Sentences: Deborah A. Lott

In those days my unconscious seemed powerful and mysterious, and I could never tell whether it was moving me towards self-destruction or self-preservation.

Deborah A. Lott, “The Daddy Cure.”

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Beautiful Sentences: Hilary Mantel

There cannot be new things in England. There can be old things freshly presented, or new things that pretend to be old. To be trusted, new men must forge themselves an ancient pedigree, like Walter’s, or enter into the service of ancient families. Don’t try to go it alone, or they’ll think you’re pirates.

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall.

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Beautiful Sentences: Rabih Alameddine

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who want to be desired, and people who want to be desired so much that they pretend they don’t.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman.

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Beautiful Sentences: Hilary Mantel

But she’s turned her face away and she’s crying. She’s not crying for him, because nobody, he thinks, will ever cry for him. God didn’t cut him out that way. She’s crying for her idea of what life should be like: Sunday after church, all the sisters, sisters-in-law, wives kissing and patting, swatting at each other’s children and at the same time loving them and rubbing their little round heads, women comparing and swapping babies, and all the men gathering and talking business, wool, yarn, lengths, shipping, bloody Flemings, fishing rights, brewing, annual turnover, nice timely information, favor-for-favor, little sweeteners, little retainers, my attorney says…

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall.

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Beautiful Sentences: Rabih Alameddine

My body is full of sentences and moments, my heart resplendent with lovely turns of phrases, but neither is able to be touched by another.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman.

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