Friday, September 17, 2010

Run on, McPhee, run on!

Run-on sentences, those loose shambling assemblages of words that lounge and sprawl and put their feet up on the furniture, generally are to be avoided, because understanding them requires a mental toolbox of levels and straightedges and T-squares to measure and survey and cut into lengths of sense, and are hard to read besides.

Still, in the hands of a master craftsman they can glisten as polished creations of beauty. Here is an example from the nonpareil John McPhee, writing on the 2010 British Open in the Sept. 6 New Yorker:

Wars had shut down the championship, and this was actually the hundred-and-thirty-ninth playing of it, the twenty-eighth at St. Andrews, and there was not a lot of dramatic tension in the 2010 Open unless you found it dramatic that a twenty-seven-year-old who had missed three cuts in recent weeks (including the cut at the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach) and ranked fifty-fourth in the world started off as a flash in the pan and then went on flashing and -- on the third and fourth days, when he was supposed to go dark -- flashed brighter and brighter and finished one stroke short of a record set ten years ago by Tiger Woods.

I stand in utter admiration.

1 comment:

  1. That sentence is "bookended" very well, too. (It begins with "wars" and ends with "Woods," both of them weighty words.