How to Write a Sentence
And How to Read One
By Stanley Fish
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061840548, 176pp.)
Publication Date: February 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Some appreciate fine art; others appreciate fine wines. Stanley Fish appreciates fine sentences. The New York Times columnist and world-class professor has long been an aficionado of language. Like a seasoned sportscaster, Fish marvels at the adeptness of finely crafted sentences and breaks them down into digestible morsels, giving readers an instant play-by-play.
In this entertaining and erudite gem, Fish offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure, skills invaluable to any writer (or reader). How to Write a Sentence is both a spirited love letter to the written word and a key to understanding how great writing works; it is a book that will stand the test of time.
STANLEY FISH is a professor of law at Florida International University in Miami, and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University. He is the author of fourteen books, most recently Fugitive in Flight and Save the World on Your Own Time. He lives in Andes, New York, and New York City.
Most people know a good sentence when they read one, but New York Times columnist Stanley Fish says most of us don't really know how to write them ourselves. His new book, How To Write A Sentence: And How To Read One, is part ode, part how-to guide to the art of the well-constructed sentence. More at NPR.org
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“Both deeper and more democratic than The Elements of Style.”
“A guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language.”
“[Fish] shares his connoisseurship of the elegant sentence.”
-The New Yorker
“Stanley Fish just might be America’s most famous professor.”
“How to Write a Sentence is a compendium of syntactic gems—light reading for geeks.”
-New York magazine
“How to Write a Sentence isn’t merely a prescriptive guide to the craft of writing but a rich and layered exploration of language as an evolving cultural organism. It belongs not on the shelf of your home library but in your brain’s most deep-seated amphibian sensemaking underbelly.”
-Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“[Fish’s] approach is genially experiential—a lifelong reader’s engagement whose amatory enthusiasm is an attempt to overthrow Strunk & White’s infamous insistences on grammar by rote.”
-New York Observer
“In this small feast of a book Stanley Fish displays his love of the English sentence. His connoisseurship is broad and deep, his examples are often breathtaking, and his analyses of how the masterpieces achieve their effects are acute and compelling.”
“A sentence is, in John Donne’s words, ‘a little world made cunningly,’ writes Fish. He’ll teach you the art.”
“This splendid little volume describes how the shape of a sentence controls its meaning.”
“Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop.”
-Roy Blount Jr.
“Language lovers will flock to this homage to great writing.”
“Fish is a personable and insightful guide with wide-ranging erudition and a lack of pretension.”
“For both aspiring writer and eager reader, Fish’s insights into sentence construction and care are instructional, even inspirational.”
-The Huffington Post
“If you love language you’ll find something interesting, if not fascinating, in [How to Write a Sentence].”
“[A] slender but potent volume. Fish, a distinguished law professor and literary theorist, is the anti-Strunk & White.”
-The Globe and Mail
“You’d get your money’s worth from the quotations alone…if you give this book the attention it so clearly deserves, you will be well rewarded.”
“The fun comes from the examples cited throughout: John Updike, Jane Austen…all are cited throughout.”
“How to Write a Sentence is the first step on the journey to the Promised Land of good writing.”
“How to Write a Sentence is a must read for aspiring writers and anyone who wants to deepen their appreciation of literature. If extraordinary sentences are like sports plays, Fish is the Vin Scully of great writing.”
-Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, authors of "They Say/I Say"
“Coming up with all-or-nothing arguments is simply what Fish does; and, in a sense, one of his most important contributions to the study of literature is that temperament…Whether people like Fish or not, though, they tend to find him fascinating.”
-The New Yorker