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This sentence is ________ .

from Ken Sparling’s Book:

“There was something incursive in the skin of the apple, which sat on the car seat abandoned like the crust of something at the edge of a place no one ever goes in a world we can’t imagine during a time in the distant future when silver planets rip natural laws all to fuck”

8 thoughts on “This sentence is ________ .

  1. This sentence is elusive.

    There is a trend these days towards prose that isn’t straight forward, that is layered, difficult, and a juxtaposition of several things. And that isn’t a bad thing. Just got done reading Avian Gospels and this reminds me of that, the mix of lyrical language with an abrupt, almost immature vocabulary. To go from “incursive” (which I had to look up) to the abstract of “silver planets rip natural laws” ending in the “to fuck” is jarring. In this context it’s hard to say what the voice of the narrator is going for, where it is set, and what the goal of the author is.

    This sentence is challenging.

    I was with it in the begging, getting the aggression of the apple skin, the crust, had a picture of that, was into it, the car seat, and then it got too general for my tastes, “the crust of SOMETHING (define that for me) at the edge of a place (WHAT KIND OF PLACE) no one ever goes in a world we can’t imagine (IMAGINE IT)…”. I don’t need everything to be tactile, to be real, or defined, I like ethereal prose, but it runs the risk of losing its audience when there are too many generalities in a row.

    This sentence is interesting.

    And isn’t that the point? To stir up interest, to get you to think, to wonder, to question?

    Curious to see what others think.

  2. I like the sentence, too. It’s difficult, challenging, and has rewards for those who are willing to unpack it.

    My question, though:

    Are the sentences around this one just as challenging? How challenging is too challenging?

    I’ve got a series of dense prose poems that I want, very badly, to work together as a fragmented narrative, but everyone who’s seen it has said it’s too much to unpack and can’t sustain extended interest.


    1. The next sentences (paragraph) in that chapter:

      “I need your keys, Grace said. Leave your keys in the apartment when you go. Arthur felt he was falling apart. He felt he was a part of all things. Grace turned to look at him. She took his hand. Arthur let her. He let her hold his hand. he let her run her fingers over the back of his hand. He didn’t look at her. He didn’t look at anything.”

      Sparling treads that line perhaps more finely than any other writer, the distance between unpacking just enough but not having to unpack too much. Sustaining interest is the focal point of that too, how much can we push and how much should we relent.

      1. The initial sentence I remember, it’s from the beginning of the book, right J.A.? Which page?

        Reading Wallace Stevens is a good primer for Sparling and the other way around. The ground keeps shifting. These seems like devotional writings which I alluded to in this ‘For Whom God…’ review – http://bigother.com/2010/03/02/for-those-whom-god-has-blessed-with-fingers-a-ken-sparling-novel/

        The word ‘silver’ seems like the cherry on top. Without it we just have planets.

        I can’t help but through in that ‘planet’ is one of Stevens’ favorite words. The ‘planet’ in this poem is thought to be the ‘Collected Poems’ of Stevens that he just put together a year before he died.

        The Planet On The Table

        Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
        They were of a remembered time
        Or of something seen that he liked.

        Other makings of the sun
        Were waste and welter
        And the ripe shrub writhed.

        His self and the sun were one
        And his poems, although makings of his self,
        Were no less makings of the sun.

        It was not important that they survive.
        What mattered was that they should bear
        Some lineament or character,

        Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
        In the poverty of their words,
        Of the planet of which they were part.

  3. It is a really interesting sentence. Usually a string of nested relative clauses and prepositional phrases would serve to specify their subject, but here they explode the context instead in rapid panning away from the object. (Kind of like, come to think of it, what Stephen Daedalus wrote on his desk, can’t find the quote but it’s something along the lines of “in this school, in Dublin, in Ireland, in the world, in the universe.) Just the opposite of the movement in “the hole in the bottom of the sea” song (There’s a frog on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea etc…) For me the visual effect is of the apple being dropped into outer space. It gets to disappear completely but we are left hanging in the void. I like “incursive” though I had to look it up and it complements that movement. So it–whatever it is–is going into the apple while we are exploding away from it. That’s a cool symmetry. And the abrupt “all to fuck” kind of finishes the explosion off like a kid reacting to an M80 blowing up a pumpkin or something.

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