Posted by dahosek

Beautiful Sentences: Katie Kitamura

Translation is not unlike an act of channeling, you write and you do not write the words.

Katie Kitamura, A Separation.

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Beautiful Sentences: Brit Bennett

She couldn’t stop calling or writing or driving past the house. That was what it meant to love someone, right? You couldn’t leave them, even if they hated you. You could never let them go.

Brit Bennett, The Mothers.

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Beautiful Sentences: Julia Álvarez

Perhaps this is the only way to grieve the big things—in snippets, pinches, little sips of sadness.

Julia Álvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies.

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“A Pilgrimage”: The Story Behind the Story

A Pilgrimage” is one of those NewImagestories that originated by reading off the page. In this instance it was a Mexican short story that I was reading in Spanish. I don’t remember the story details very well, other than being somewhat lost in the Spanish. As a consequence I began imagining the story that became “A Pilgrimage.”

I spent a lot of time on Google Maps working out the route that the characters would take to walk from St Louis to Chicago. Some, but not all, of the landmarks along the way are real. The shrine to St Peregrine in Chicago is also real. I meant to go there to be able to right the scenes set there with greater accuracy but was never able to get away from the family to make the pilgrimage, so to speak.

I received invaluable early feedback from writer friends Katherine Sanger and Kyle Roesler.

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Beautiful Sentences: Uwem Akpan

The light surrounded him like a halo that was too big for a saint and had to be shared by all who were near.

Uwem Akpan, “Say You’re One of Them.” 

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Beautiful Sentences: Victor LaValle

He wasn’t about to be that black guy. (You know, the one who scouts ahead and gets his ass sliced in two. Somewhere near the first ten minutes of the horror movie. Although, to be fair, moviemakers have largely stopped that practice. Now there’s usually one amiable but forgettable white person who dies first, and then they kill off all the nonwhite cast members.)

Victor LaValle, The Devil in Silver.

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Beautiful Sentences: Christopher Isherwood

But we, most of us, lose our sense of proportion in the presence of a nun; and George, thus exposed at short range to this bride of Christ in her uncompromising medieval habit, finds himself becoming flustered, defensive.

Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man.

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Beautiful Sentences: Brenda Peynado

We knew full well that hate did not require an initial offense. Only original sin, only being born.

Brenda Peynado, “The Whitest Girl.”

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Beautiful Sentences: Louis Erdrich

Mine is not a church of the saved, but a church of the lost.

Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God.

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Beautiful Sentences: Pascal Mercier

Of the thousand experiences we have, we find language for one at most and even then this was merely by chance and without the care it deserves. Buried under all the mute experiences are those unseen ones that give our life its form, its color, and its melody.

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon.

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