Category Archives: Susan Scarf Merrell

Sentence Form

Since last fall Tin House‘s blog has been running a recurring series called “The Art of the Sentence,” in which various writers celebrate a particular line they admire in a work of fiction. The choices and commentary are hit and miss, but the concept is a good one—it makes me want to dust off the “One Paragraph” series I ran here for a little while. I do like Susan Scarf Merrell‘s riff on three of her favorite sentences, particularly one from William Faulkner‘s Light in August:

“Memory believes before knowing remembers.”

It’s from Faulkner’s Light in August, and if I live to be 100, I will still not understand it. Five words strung together. I’ve been thinking about them for two decades, and every time I believe I’ve figured them out, they shift in meaning. For me, this is the best, most mysterious, most marvelous sentence I’ve yet read.