Why Did I Choose That Book? or In Praise and Admiration for Long Sentences

As I mulled over what to write about for this week’s post, I naturally thought back to last week’s post–it was about running to books for comfort and calming in the face of life’s inevitable and daily trials and tribulations.

I myself did just that. I set aside a novel I had just bought because it simply was not ‘taking me away from it all’, went to my bookshelf of keeper books, perused the titles, and selected Sleeping at the Starlite Motel, by Bailey White.

What made me choose that book, and why has it given me the comfort and calming that I require at the moment, when the novel I set aside did not?

Sleeping at the Starlight Motel is not fiction, but I suspect it is more fiction than fact. It is short stories, sort of, maybe a bit of memoir, but with so much fantasy that one can’t quite be sure. With White’s writing, I’m taken in a timeless manner to my own people, my own South country, my delight in the absurd, and in details so precious and touching and eccentric. She takes me from reality into the pages of the book–and yes, a lot of it is rather boring–but I’m safe and comfortable there, at the same time led to think deeply on humanity and life that goes on.

How does this author and book do this?

The answer that comes to my mind: Long sentences.

I like long sentences. I am flat-out in love with the ability of some writers to reveal the magnificence and meaning in the mundane of life by using a string of words flowing on and on like a black-water river song.

Here is an example:”You can sit in a cool breeze on a high bluff overlooking one of the four rivers and admire your new two-tone hiking boots and special moisture-wicking socks, and gaze down a long view into the mist, and smell the sweetness in the air, and think about all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.” – Bailey White, “Garden of Eden”, in Sleeping at the Starlight Motel.

Now, that is a satisfying long sentence. With it, White conveys the enchantment she experienced in both herself and Torreya State Park in Florida. I know about the park because I have been there. I drove and drove and drove along a narrow black-topped ribbon of highway through thick stands of tall pine trees and small communities unchanged since the 1950s, reached the remote park and the campground and stood on a buff there and saw about half the world. In her tale of Torreya, White continues with descriptions of nature at the park that turn from magic to horror, and all in long sentences that have me nodding and chuckling. The woman is a master.

My gaze falls now to a quote that I have stuck at the base of my computer: “…that I must learn, if I was to achieve literature and favorable reviews, to write as though I were not quite sure about what I meant but was jolly well going to say something all the same in sentences as long as possible.” – Stella Gibbons, British author of Cold Comfort Farm

I have that quote there to remind me that it’s okay for me to be just as I am, maybe often quite unsure, but a lover of long sentences. I feel as if I’m sticking out my chin in the face of modern literature and daring to say, “I have always loved long sentences and I always will, and I do not intend to cure the addiction.”

Grace and peace, darling people. I you love long sentences, please let me know in the comments.