Before they were unmoored from their spines…

Word count: 247 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Adam Gopnik.

I’ve written before about Adam Gopnik. My admiration for the man’s writing knows no bounds.

In a recent (April 22/13) New Yorker, in an article headlined “Yellow Fever,” Gopnik offers a truly compelling analysis of the National Geographic. Here is the link to his article, although I regret to tell you that it is “locked” (i.e. available to subscribers only.)

His thoughtful deconstruction of the magazine caused me to smile in recognition many times. It was a magazine of my childhood as well. But it was his writing that truly captivated me. Here is one, perfect sentence; it’s my favourite from the article:

Magazines in their great age, before they were unmoored from their spines and digitally picked apart, before perpetual blogging made them permeable packages, changing mood at every hour and up all night like colicky infants—magazines were expected to be magisterial registers of the passing scene. 

I love his verbs — “unmoored” (which he smartly uses in the passive voice here) and “picked apart” — and his simile — “like colicky infants” — captures the perfect tone. Finally, I enjoy the way he compares magazines to royalty. His sophistication, his vocabulary, his careful thought all make this article well worth reading. If you don’t have a subscription, it’s worth making the effort to get this one from the library.

Scroll to Top