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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love, by Roy Kesey

“A sentence is a length of awareness.”

William H. Gass, “Culture, Self and Style,” Habitations of the Word


The best word in this sentence is “length” but not for the reason you’re thinking of, not for that reason at all and jesus god I can’t believe I even hang out with you, how that’s all you can ever think about, it’s disgusting, frankly, it’s fucking filthy, but back to the Gass, because he could have said lots of other things, could have said “segment” or “unit” (and you again with that look on your face) or “measure” or “span” or “clot” but no he said “length” and the sentence thus does what it says, thus walks its talk, thus performs its meaning, a beautiful and difficult thing in this or any world, performs its meaning more than once, in fact, since “awareness” can play a couple of ways, the author’s or the reader’s, and maybe in some sense the sentence’s own, and maybe also in some episense all three at once forming a fourth, the smartest of the lot, the one we have all needed longest.


  • Roy Kesey is the author of Any Deadly Thing, Pacazo, and All Over, and Nothing in the World. His work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, New Sudden Fiction, The Robert Olen Butler Prize Anthology and The Future Dictionary of America, and in more than eighty magazines, including McSweeney's, Subtropics, The Georgia Review, American Short Fiction, The Iowa Review, and Ninth Letter. Kesey lives in Maryland.

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