Esquire magazine used to publish some of the best fiction on the planet, but like so many other venues, the magazine has succumbed to the commercial cash cow. So I was pleased to find this link to “Esquires 70 Greatest Sentences.” As the article says, these are “seventy lines that sparkle, invoke, provoke, or are just damn enjoyable to read.” From Phillip Roth and Ralph Ellison, Nora Ephron and e. e. cummings, to Fitzgerald and Cheever.
They also have a sentence by Bucky McMahon, who was an undergraduate classmate of mine at the University of North Florida. He was in one of my first creative writing classes, when I was a newbie and Bucky was the star of the workshop. William Slaughter, our teacher, loved his writing, and rightly so. Bucky loves words–and he could put them together unlike anyone I’ve ever known. He ended up at Florida State, published a number of short stories, and then became a columnist for the Tallahassee Democrat. His adventures and writing combined to make him an excellent writer of nonfiction.
David Vann describes Bucky’s style this way:
Climate change is too vast for most of us to believe. The Gulf Stream might as well be fairy tale. But when Bucky McMahon jumps into a life raft 50 miles from Miami and floats alone through night and day, trying to grasp what the Gulf Stream really is, trying to experience it, we see the problem.
Bucky is also a diver, and the sentence Esquire pulled from its own pages came from Bucky’s “Everest at the Bottom of the Sea” essay:
In the final terror, with your gauges ticking and your gas running low, as dead end leads to dead end and the last corridor stretches out beyond time, does the mind impose its own order, seizing the confusion of busted pipes and jagged edges and forcing them into a logical grid, which you can then follow down to the bottom of the wreck and out–in a gust of light and love–through the wound in her side?