Do you ever come across a sentence in a book that you find yourself going back and re-reading several times? Because it strikes you in some way as being special – it might be beautifully constructed, amusing, inventive, or just exactly the right sentence for just that place? That happened to me today as I was ready Broadchurch by Erin Kelly. Kelly is already one of my favourite authors – she’s just so good. Below is the sentence that struck me, underlined; I’ve also included the previous one for context.
An air vent in the tiny window is held together by masking tape and on the still are some dried flowers in a wobbly clay pot and a wooden cat. A health-and-safety-notice clings to the wall for dear life.
Why did I like the underlined sentence so much? I think there were three reasons. Firstly, it’s a creative, different way of saying something otherwise banal like ‘there’s a notice on the wall’. Second, there’s a dash of playful, ironic humour in the concept of a health-and-safety notice apparently being afraid and in some kind of danger. And third, it just fits so well. The passage is written in the perspective of a hot-shot city reporter walking into a small-town newspaper office, and she’s casting her sardonic eye across the rather down-at-heel surroundings. It’s the kind of observation such a person might make in that situation.
Perhaps I’m making too much of one little sentence; and probably many others people would find it unremarkable. Just a little thing. But it struck me and I wanted to explore why.
Do you find yourself doing this sometimes, reading and re-reading a phrase, sentence or passage and thinking, ‘wow, now that’s writing.’?