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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love: From Don DeLillo’s The Names

“I commute all sentences.”
—from Don Delillo’s The Names (p.32)

This is lifted from a paragraph where a father, after a year of hospitals and tests, speaks his finalish words and says “I commute all sentences. Pass the word. The criminals are forgiven,” which is almost a throwaway bit where a character is talking about her father’s death but always struck me (for a patriarch in a post-Abrahamic worldview, i.e., Delillo’s) as perfect last words and of which the daughter comments, “Deadpan. Absolutely deadpan to the end.”

Eugene Lim is the author of the novels Fog & Car, The Strangers, and Dear Cyborgs. His writings have appeared in Granta, Dazed, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Jacket2, and elsewhere. He runs Ellipsis Press, and lives in Jackson Heights, NY, with Joanna and Felix.

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