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Guest Post, by David Peak: A Sentence About a Sentence I Love

From Thomas Ligotti’s story, “Autumnal.”

“And we are always dreaming of the day when all the fires of summer are defunct, when everyone like a shriveled leaf sinks into the cooling ground of a sunless earth, and when even the colors of autumn have withered for the last time, dissolving into the desolate whiteness of an eternal winter.”

Ligotti’s sentences–nevermind the stories themselves–are a strange mix of metaphor and simile, lurching serpentine through the sensorial and the memorial, infused by both the disorienting logic of dreams, and the real-life image-rot of urban decay, the blight of terror zones like post-rustbelt, meteor-wreck Detroit; and this sentence, specifically, with its nature-language, with its snuffing out of the sun, is as complete and full as any I’ve ever read, a sentence that sums up, in totality, not only the sad beauty of the life-cycle (we start with the “fires of summer,” lose our color, and dissolve into “desolate whitenes”), but also the cold, unrelenting, ever-expanding texture of time and the universe itself–no small feat, by any measure.

David Peak is the author of Surface Tension.

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

7 thoughts on “Guest Post, by David Peak: A Sentence About a Sentence I Love

  1. I actually like your sentence on his sentence better than his sentence. I especially like the preponderance of dashes, which begs the question, ‘Can I call you Mr. Dash’s?’

  2. There’s a gothic tone to this sentence that sort of reminds me of Lovecraft. Is this representative of Ligotti? And I, too, like this progression of the seasons in his sentence.

    1. I’m glad you pick up on the Lovecraft vibe. Ligotti’s a devotee, even dedicated one of his best stories (“The Last Feast of the Harlequin”) to Lovecraft’s memory.

      One of the reasons I chose this sentence, besides its strength as a stand-alone, and its inherent beauty, is that it really is representative of who Ligotti is as a writer. He can be tough to pin down, but I love the way he blends the natural world with the breakdown of the mechanical world. To me, the word “defunct,” the way its used to describe the end of the “fires of summer” says a lot. It’s a word we use to describe technology, not nature.

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