A glint-eyed scientist with a tiny box…

Word count: 297 words

Reading time: Just over 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 is by Adam Gopnik.

I’ve long admired the writing of Adam Gopnik, and not just because he was raised in Canada. His parents were professors at McGill University and he was brought up in Montreal before moving to New York City and beginning his long association with the New Yorker.

I enjoyed his books Paris to the Moon (essays about his five years in Paris) and Through the Children’s Gate (essays about life with young children in New York) and his more recent 2011 Massey Lecture on the topic of Winter, which I was lucky enough to hear on CBC radio.

Just last week I read his January 28, 2013 New Yorker article on the mysteries of sound, headlined, Music to your ears. (I’m afraid the article is locked so that only subscribers can read it, but at least you can see the precis.) Here is my favourite line from the whole piece:

Many of us dream of the moment when a glint-eyed scientist with a tiny box will do something amazing — turn off all the lights in the city, or send us back in time, or make us glow emerald and fly.

I like his adjective, glint-eyed, to describe the type of mad-scientist who accomplishes mind-boggling feats. Is there an adult alive has hasn’t fantasized about having the ability  — the power! — to turn off the lights to an entire city or to travel in time?  I also like the way he immediately summons the Wizard of Oz with his use of the word “emerald” juxtaposed with “fly.” Flying monkeys anyone?

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