The power of a single sentence can make an entire book not only memorable in the short term, but a forever favourite. A perfect sentence (or paragraph) can be humourous, insightful, frightening, heartbreaking, or a combination of these and many more. The right sequence of words can convey a thought process, the whole subtext of a novel, and/or make the reader look at the world differently. I’ve kept some novels simply because I felt the book contained a perfect sentence, one that resonated. The writer cannot get too engrossed with creating the correct phrase, however, because he or she would complete no work. Fortunately, for everyone, sometimes the magic happens anyway, but one sentence that means the world to one reader will be meaningless to another. All our experiences differ. As unique individuals, what we appreciate and what has meaning vary as much as our personalities. Life would be boring if the situation were otherwise.
One such perfect sentence for me is toward the end of Poppy Z Brite’s Drawing Blood. “The art was in learning to spend your life with someone, in having the courage to be creative with someone, to melt each other’s souls to molten temperatures and let them flow together into an alloy that could withstand the world.”
This is perfect to me because it reveals the human condition, of the struggle to withstand and sustain life, and includes a simple but well-presented explanation of why, for many of us, we find it important to create and to love. We may not need books, music, art, etc., or even require companionship to exist, but we need them to ‘live’. The above sentence takes something fundamental to most of us and presents it in an untarnished, descriptive, and beautiful way.