Little words and little sentences always get me in writing. I make every effort to use impeccable grammar, punctuation, and spelling on a daily basis, but something about fragments of thoughts has a more concentrated punch when you’re pouring over page after page of a novel. The little words leap from the page and present themselves to you unencumbered and potent.
When I am caught in a novel where the words go on in long strings and then break into their own space, moving from paragraphs and complex sentences into single words and tiny clusters, I cannot stop reading. I cannot help referring back to the lines later, either, especially those that constitute the border between long phrasing and short.
I noticed, in looking back through some favorite books recently, that this sort of style shows up in a lot of the things I love–and in a lot of heartbreakers. The History of Love comes to mind, especially in the final fifty or so pages, through which one can’t help but race. The way this style builds emotion and psychological interiority is what made it impossible to put down any of Maggie O’Farrell’s novels.
So, I wonder: do you find that there is a particular style you are drawn to repeatedly? If not, is there a particular genre? What sorts of books grip you and don’t let you stop until there are no pages left?0