une.bete.rare, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by une.bete.rare)
Stanley Fish's "How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One" is a thought-provoking read full of tips on how to improve one's writing by analyzing and deconstructing great sentences by famous writers. Not only is this book informative, it is also an impassioned love letter to the art of the sentence and to the magic of words. It has been helpful in improving my own writing, and it was a pleasure to read!
pmontyda, November 15, 2011 (view all comments by pmontyda)
I LOVE words. I must have this book-- if I win it or if I buy it; I will have it by Christmas. Thank you Powell's for sending me your Daily Dose!
Anne Markel, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Anne Markel)
I read a lot of books about writing, but--no surprises--this is the best I've read in years. I've recommended it to every teacher of English that I know.
MNGlenn, June 7, 2011 (view all comments by MNGlenn)
Sentences are not just strings of words, as Fish argues, but first sentences that lure you into a novel, sentences, a page in length, that grab and shake you leaving you persuaded, sentences that stop you dead in your tracks with their economy and power, sentences that lead you to the side of an argument you thought you'd never see, sentences that end a novel in a package - neat or otherwise. This is a delicious book, to be savored and revisited frequently.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"A whole book on the lowly sentence? Stanley Fish, America's English Professor, confides that he belongs 'to the tribe of sentence watchers,' and shares his passion and learning through an array of examples from sentence-making masters, among them Milton, James, Dr. King, Sterne, Swift, Salinger, Elmore Leonard, Conrad, and Gertrude Stein. For Fish, language is logic. He stresses how the sentence, regardless of length — whether declarative or embroidered with qualifiers — is a structure of logical relationships. He discusses the all-important opening sentence and closing sentence, especially as the latter can be isolated from its dramatic context to convey full rhetorical effect. The reader is advised to begin with form; with practice, writers can develop three basics of style (subordinating, additive, satiric) that will allow them to make an emotional impact with their words. In the end, the craft of sentence writing is elevated to the very center of our inner lives. Fish plays the opinion card well, though a piling on of example after example, particularly of long sentences drawn from literature or theology, might leave more experienced sentence-makers to cry, 'Enough already!' (Jan. 25)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by The New Yorker,
"Coming up with all-or-nothing arguments is simply what Fish does; and, in a sense, one of his most important contributions to the study of literature is that temperament....Whether people like Fish or not, though, they tend to find him fascinating."
"[Fish] fluidly conveys the nitty-gritty details of crafting sentences, but, even more impressive, he communicates and instills in readers a deep appreciation for beautiful sentences that 'do things the language you use every day would not have seemed capable of doing.' Language lovers will flock to this homage to great writing."
"A guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language."
by Financial Times,
"Both deeper and more democratic than The Elements of Style."
by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, authors of They Say/I Say,
"How to Write a Sentence is a must read for aspiring writers and anyone who wants to deepen their appreciation of literature. If extraordinary sentences are like sports plays, Fish is the Vin Scully of great writing."
by Boston Globe,
“Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop.”
by Roy Blount Jr.,
“A sentence is, in John Donne’s words, ‘a little world made cunningly,’ writes Fish. He’ll teach you the art.”
New York Times columnist Fish presents an entertaining, erudite celebration of language and rhetoric drawing on a wide range of examples from Hobbes to Scalia to Elmore Leonard.
by Harper Collins,
“Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop.” —Roy Blount Jr.
“Language lovers will flock to this homage to great writing.” —Booklist
Outspoken New York Times columnist Stanley Fish offers an entertaining, erudite analysis of language and rhetoric in this delightful celebration of the written word. Drawing on a wide range of great writers, from Philip Roth to Antonin Scalia to Jane Austen and beyond, Fishs How to Write a Sentence is much more than a writing manual—it is a penetrating exploration into the art and craft of sentences.
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