Sometimes a great sentence
deserves a wider audience, although the audience here is smaller than those reading The New Yorker. Assuming anybody other than grad students and we creatively unemployed actually read the thing.
Anyhow, I ran onto this, in the March 9 issue, the opening line in a long piece on the collapse of Iceland’s economy, which I read in a misery loves company spirit, and because the magazine was at hand and I was waiting for something. Maggie, probably. Maybe her mother.
“On an afternoon in December that ended in a disturbance that fell short of a riot, a few thousand demonstrators met on a bleak grassy hill in the center of Reykjavik, in Iceland.”
The author is a staff writer for The New Yorker whose byline I only barely recognize: Ian Parker.
I would bet, incidentally, that the final clause, explaining that Reykjavik is in Iceland, was added by some niggling fact-checker or copy-editor. I’m pretty sure that, had I written that sentence, I would have fought that last, flat bit of explication. Probably I would have recast the next sentence to begin with the word “Iceland,” but, really, if you don’t know Reykjavik is in Iceland, you’re probably not paying attention enough to read the piece, anyhow.
This, of course, is why I count my self fortunate to have worked for 13 years with a fine and patient copy-editor!