Sort of like bungee jumping…

Word count: 299 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 Calvin Trillin.

I’m not one of those people who eats to live. I freely admit it: I live to eat. And to laugh. And  to read. And that makes me more or less the perfect audience for Calvin Trillin (pictured above.)

Born in 1935, Trillin is a journalist, humourist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist. I have read his work more or less exclusively in the New Yorker where I found his March 27/06 essay on his late wife, Alice, so moving that I’ve never forgotten it. I didn’t learn that he’d expanded the piece into a book, About Alice, until I did the research for this blog entry; I intend to read his book later this year. I also consider him an honourary Canadian because he vacations in Nova Scotia.

He’s very funny — this year he won the the Thurber Prize for American Humor — and his wit is well displayed in my sentence of the week. It comes from a Dec. 3/12 piece headlined Land of the seven moles,” in which he describes his visit to his daughter, Abigail, who was living for a year with her family in Mexico. Trillin’s humour is gentle, bemused, avuncular — almost Thurberesque one might say.  Here is the sentence I liked:

Eating, say, iguana spleen strikes me as sort of like bungee jumping: the point is not to do it but to have done it.

I like the surprise of the simile — I would never have thought to compare bungee jumping with, well, anything else, never mind eating, but he pulls it off with aplomb. And the end of his sentence, “the point is not to do it but to have done it” makes me nod in agreement.