Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Leonard Michaels on Sentences

To read Leonard Michaels' Nachman Stories is to experience language fused with life, but inner life of which one sees only minuscule outward evidence as most of us live from day to day.

He wrote an essay on sentences.  No wonder he was such a master story writer: his grasp of the essence of structure, even to the degree of "why bother?" is inspiring, no matter what your genre of writing, reading or, for that matter, playing the piano.

We are taught to play Mozart as if Mozart wrote according to the rules of musical sentence structure.  But to read Mozart is to experience in, say, every third "sentence" a radical departure from those norms.  I knew it as a child.  Oh, if only I could have said out loud: "But this doesn't make sense!"

Now, at last, I know what sense it makes.  It took a long time.