on June 12, 2011
There's more to a (good) sentence than meets the eye. Stanley Fish knows quite a bit about it and, using quite few dazzlers of his own, lets us in on some of the finer points.
For starters, sentences aren't REALLY what you might think they are; a dry collection of 'parts', strung together with Leggo connections and 'rules', though the rules and the stringing together are important. This fertile bundle of revelations will get you thinking about things WAY beyond grammar - all the way to how sentence structure colours reality (but, don't worry, it's not essential that you do so).
The book jacket has one of the reviewers describing the author as the "Vin Scully of great writing". That sells Fish short by a country mile or more - sportscasters merely describe WHAT happened; Fish unpacks sentences in a manner that gets at the heart of WHY.
I have a love/hate relationship with many small books. I'm not ambivalent about this one. If you want to get a sense of writing as an organic process, some fascinating perspectives on writing generally and some memorable literary signposts, you won't be disappointed with this book.
This is a superb and knowing explanation of sentence writing that will get you itchy to pull out a pen or pencil and have a try at it yourself. The genius of this book is Fish getting you to appreciate the high art of a great sentence while making you believe that if you only work at it, you may just be able to pull one off yourself. This book may be short on methodical advice on writing but it makes up for it in inspiration and sheer readability. Putting "page-turner" and "writing manual" in the same sentence would be an absurdity in most cases, but not in reference to this book. What wonderful sentence will we see next?
on June 22, 2012
This is a really fun read. And it is also immensely helpful to any serious reader or writer. Fish doesn't just outline principles or techniques, but he provides LOTS of examples. This book is stuffed full of excellent examples of great sentences which illustrate what he is saying.
The chapters about first and last sentences are simply delightful. I think I will never again read a book without paying careful attention to the opening and closing line again!
My only complaint is that the last couple pages are far annoyingly sentimental and gushy.
on August 5, 2012
This guy , Mr Fish, is a master. A wonderful book. I wish he would just keep writing and writing. very solid points and tips on how to improve that you would not get from the now so called famous "shrunk and not-write", pun intended. This is a wonderful book, I wish someone would have given me this many years a go , very sad that that it took so long. Buy it, it is worth it.
on November 10, 2015
Interesting, funny, and a good mix of theory and practicality. Particularly suited to sentence and grammar nuts! I would recommend this for classrooms. The book is short but dense, and filled with pithy sentences, critiques, and examples. It's a great way to learn how a good sentence is put together.