Sunday, October 23, 2011

Astounding words, phrases, and sentences

Sometimes, when I’m reading, I come across astounding words, phrases, and sentences. I always try to write them down. Much of my writing at this point in my career is imitation – I take a paragraph that particularly strikes me, deconstruct how the sentences flow, and try to copy its structure for my own topic. This is what I’ve accumulated over the last few months. (~10% are my own orphaned phrases.) (And Derrick – yes, I had a list like this during poetry class and threw them in like ingredients in ratatoulle.) (Warned: there's a ton of Italo Calvino.)


machievelli codicils
Pretorian guard
bespoke (a suit)
pithy aperçus


rendered in chiaroscuro, with thick, bristling cross-hatching all around
her calves were short but her legs were strong
the inflexible grip of unhappiness
building a relationship from the pebbles of our mutual longing
finally, at 8am, fed up with the nitty table and the molasses fish, I just left.
in a blink, baseball's Ahab's found Clemens in the Seine
green tea hips
hands pierced like halberds
in the vain attempt to turn them back, move backward over the cemetery of spent hours
incongruous quires
last one there farts in a milk bottle
fleshy flowers
it's a game where the person scores, not the ball. And you always come home
fomenting the crisis
pre-Copernican belief that the cosmos revolves around his ego
noble nullity
limn my exquisite teenage angst
tastes like wet chalk
pebbly skinned
shiny chicken wings
clausal filigree upon clausal filigree to create a baroque edifice of seething irony
the wax of years
russeting on the blossom end
salty blisters
the visit of a Singhalese
who wants to sell me a litter of newborn crocodiles in a zinc tub
skinny-limb spruce trees
sugar-rush novelty
bulldozed nuance
jejune synthetics
glossy coexistence
a strange new dance of give-and-take
the giant fingers of gravity holding him in place
bug-eyed sylph
Barbadian patois
15 million years and even the sun wrinkles into embers
daily nothing-much.
the judgment is true -- but only by half.
effusions of a graphomane
“This vehicle has been checked for sleeping children.”
“I have a question I mustache, but I’ll shave it for later.”

Sentence Structures:

"And every Wednesday the perfumed young lady slips me a hundred-crown note to leave her alone with the convict. And by Thursday the hundred crowns are already gone in so much beer. And when the visiting hour is over, the young lady comes out with the stink of jail in her elegant clothes; and the prisoner goes back to his cell with the lady's perfume in his jailbird's suit. And I'm left with the smell of beer. Life is nothing but trading smells."

“The Giants are a team of low-wattage eccentrics: hirsute relievers, a thong-wearing first baseman and a manager who always looks as if he rolled out of bed at noon.”

“She was the winner, it was her always curious, always insatiable reading that managed to uncover truths hidden in the most barefaced fake, and falsity with no attenuating circumstances in words claiming to be the most truthful.”

"The secret is not refusing to look at the written words. On the contrary, you must look at them, intensely, until they disappear."

"I think I love her."

“The novel I would most like to read at this moment," Ludmilla explains, "should have as its driving force only the desire to narrate, to pile stories upon stories, without trying to impose a philosophy of life on you, simply allowing you to observe its own growth, like a tree, an entangling, as if of branches and leaves..."

“Campaigns are like an MRI for the soul — whoever you are, eventually people find out.”

“Where else would you find that information other than from your closest most disgusting friends?”

“Looking back, he didn’t quite know what to make of his decision: he had saw the window, saw the streaming light, and figured she was safer outside than inside. An educated guess, he reasoned afterwards. Not luck.”

"They solemnly bowed their heads to the music."

More lonely, more isolating, under the looming cloud of a prescribed emotion floating down from on high.”

“Canny, well-educated yet perpetually failing furtive Internet onanists, the dark, half- crippled, doughnut-gobbling man-apes of the literary world, who cast their lumpen shadows across the rest of us.”

Ladies and gentlemen, pimps and playas
Half ass rappers, true rhyme sayers
This is the carter, so hold on to your teenage daughter.”

“I’ve got real pushups, power pushups, clap pushups.”

“Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain, because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from.”
“I’ve been on antidepressants for, what, about a year now, and I suppose I feel as if I’m pretty qualified to tell what they’re like. They’re fine, really, but they’re fine in the same way that, say, living on another planet that was warm and comfortable and had food and fresh water would be fine: it would be fine, but it wouldn't be good old Earth."