Monday, February 27, 2006

Sentence of the Year Contest!

What was your favourite sentence of 2005? Send your nominations to McSweeneys:
As a special feature in this next edition, we'll have a section highlighting the best sentences written in 2005. This means the best sentences, period, from any source—book, blog, newspaper, journal, magazine. Anything published in 2005 in a verifiable medium. Send your nominations to banrr@mcsweeneys.net. Be sure to include the media outlet, the date, and the author's name. Deadline is March 1.
I've decided to nominate the following sentence from my colleague Robert Cushman's review of Stratford's production of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels: "Now, with their off-putting spouses off putting, the ladies learn that Maurice is about to arrive in London, news that leaves them all a-tremble." Alone, I suppose, it's not terribly exciting. But when I stumbled upon it in context in June, I was delighted:
The Fallen Angels of Noel Coward's 1924 comedy are called Julia and Jane. Each of them lives in a frightfully, not to say frighteningly, expensive flat in Central London. At least, we can see for ourselves that Julia does, and we have no reason to believe that the circumstances of Jane, who resides on another floor of the same apartment building, are any less luxurious. Both women are married, and though we don't know what their respective husbands actually do that yields such riches, we assume that it's Something in the City. Off duty, they're solid tweedy chaps whose main preoccupation is golf.

Julia and Jane have more in common than a postal address and identically placid marriages. Each, long ago, had a premarital fling with the same fella, a debonair Frenchman (he must have been debonair) named Maurice, who whisked one of them off to Rome and the other to Pisa for romantic times they wish neither to forget nor to repeat. Or so they say.

Now, with their off-putting spouses off putting, the ladies learn that Maurice is about to arrive in London, news that leaves them all a-tremble.
Ah, clever wordplay. That's all it takes to win me over.

ADDENDUM: Forgot to mention -- found this through Said the Gramophone.

No comments: