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Sunday Sentence

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In which I participate in David Abrams’s “Sunday Sentence” project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

I was born on August 14th.

Source: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

(I know that I’m not supposed to supply context/commentary here, so I won’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask me—and compel me to comment! ;-))

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3 Responses »

  1. Would you supply context/commentary, Erika? Please?

    • Gladly!

      It’s a very simple sentence, yes. But it is a powerful one. Especially considering what immediately precedes it, I find that it asserts voice, identity, and agency. It gives power to a character who otherwise lacks much power. With few words, and in a decidedly minimalist approach, it achieves (for me) maximum effect, both for the character’s development and the book’s overall theme(s).

      I bookmarked it when I read it days ago. Then, when I realized that this Sunday was actually “August 14,” I thought that there was a bit of destiny at work–it simply HAD to be my Sunday Sentence today.

      • I will buy this book. I’m still in the dark without knowing what precedes this sentence in the text itself, but given your most eloquent commentary, I wonder if it carries for you the same sense I have when I read the opening paragraphs of “David Copperfield”? The sentence you give seems the ultimate distillation of David’s statement that he was “born … on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.” At much greater length, David claims existence, just as this character does. I may be wrong, of course, but thank you for an intriguing, stimulating post and comment.

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