Beautiful sentences

Anyone who loves sentences and working with children knows Cynthia Rylant. I remember the first time I shared The Relatives Came with a group of students because of this beautiful sentence: “It was hard to fall asleep with all that new breathing in the house.” Cynthia Rylant: queen of beautiful sentences and gorgeous lists.

I recently came across dozens of beautiful sentences in Once the Shore, Paul Yoon’s book of linked short stories set on a South Korean island. The book was recommended by an independent bookseller who commented on the beauty of the language. She was right.  Here is a sentence from the award winning title story:

And all around them lay the ocean, a great wide ring of it with just that thin line of the color gray with the boat its very center, and his brother then stood and raised a hand to his brows in the manner of a salute and said, “There. We’ve done it,” and Jim followed his brother’s gaze and where there was once the shore there was now water and where west once lay was now north, east, south, any one of them.


Yoon’s book is full of this type of descriptive writing that evokes place and emotion so clearly. And I read the book because of another sentence, this one more simple, yet one that always makes me pull out my wallet to make a purchase. I am in an independent bookstore (in the case of Once the Shore, the store was McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street in NYC) and the bookseller (in this case, Erin) says:

“You have to read this book.”

And I did.

And yes, it was beautiful.

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