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Guest Post, by Adam Robinson: A Sentence About a Sentence I Love

“I sat in the chair and looked at the floor and prayed for Catherine.”

–From Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

The weakness of this sentence complicates Hemingway, with its hypotactic heart monitor beeping on the frantic “and.”

Adam Robinson is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems.

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published 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, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post, by Adam Robinson: A Sentence About a Sentence I Love

  1. After reading William Gass’s essay “And” on that almost invisible conjunction, I don’t think I can ever take it, or any other word, for that matter, for granted:

    The anonymity of ‘and,’ its very invisibility, recommends the word to the student of language, for when we really look at it, study it, listen to it, ‘and’ no longer appears to be ‘and’ at all, because ‘and’ is, as we said, invisible, one of the threads that holds our clothes together: what business has it being a pants leg or the frilly panel of a blouse? The unwatched word is meaningless—a noise in the nose—it falls on the page as it pleases, while the writer is worrying about nouns and verbs, welfare checks or a love affair; whereas the watched word has many meanings, some of them profound; it has a wide range of functions, some of them essential; it has many lessons to teach us about language, some of them surprising; and it has metaphysical significance of an even salutary sort.

  2. Definitely– also the great opening word of Pound’s _Cantos_:

    “And then went down to the ship…”

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