How to Write a Sentence : And How to Read One, Paperback Book

How to Write a Sentence : And How to Read One Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


New York Times Bestseller"Both deeper and more democratic than The Elements of Style" - Adam Haslett, Financial Times"A guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language." - Slate"Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop." -Roy Blount Jr.In this entertaining and erudite New York Times bestseller, beloved professor Stanley Fish offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure.

Drawing on a wide range of great writers, from Philip Roth to Antonin Scalia to Jane Austen, How to Write a Sentence is much more than a writing manual-it is a spirited love letter to the written word, and a key to understanding how great writing works.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Writing & editing guides
  • ISBN: 9780061840531

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Ostensibly, this is a book about how to craft an effective sentence. But it is also a celebration of those who have done it really well. Much of the book consists of examples by writers who perfected the art of constructing sentences, and by so doing helped us to perceive reality more beautifully, or ironically, or succinctly, or evocatively, than we ever would have been able to do on our own.Through numerous examples, Professor Fish demonstrates the elements of good writing: What characteristics of sentences make us want to know more of the story? How do we write such sentences? How can we combine words to reflect a certain perspective, advance a point of view, or convey a particular emotion?To my mind, the best example in the book is provided by an extensive quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s <em>Letter From A Birmingham Jail</em> (1963). In a famous passage, the late Dr. King explained why blacks had run out of patience waiting for civil rights. He anguished over the impossibility of explaining to a six-year-old child why the world, for blacks, was like it was, and he lamented seeing “the depressing clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky….” In this short and incredibly masterful phrase, Dr. King packed in years of history; textured it with analysis; and freighted it with emotion. One can appreciate how and why he moved so many. <strong>Evaluation:</strong> Fish’s essay provides a lovely, short explication and appreciation of good writing, both for those who want to be counted among adept wordsmiths, and for those simply interested in appreciating the prowess of others.

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