Sunday, September 26, 2010

exceptional excerpt #3

This excerpt is shorter than ones I've posted before, but it is a tiny paragraph that simply caught my eye, made me fold down the page so that I could remember exactly how the author said it.

It is taken from Alice McDermott's "Charming Billy" which is what I'm reading right now and this portion follows the recollection of a character's recitation of "The Village Blacksmith," a poem by Longfellow.

"Dennis had only to glance at his mother to learn that she found no charm in the words, that it sounded to her like monotony. A slow march to an unremarkable end."

I simply found this two sentence paragraph not only perfectly worded, but the layers of meaning make it profound and memorable, particulary the last sentence. At this point in the novel, you have a sense of that the mother is living a life that is not what she would have wanted but that it is one she has, in a way, simply succumbed to. That her life, like the poem she is being subjected to again and again and again, even as it winds down, is nothing all that special. To put that much into two sentences is amazing to me. For that reason, I think it earns its place here.

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