The scramble of her heartbeat…

Word count: 254 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 American novelist Jennifer Egan.

As soon as I heard the name  A Visit from the Goon Squad (by Jennifer Egan), I wanted to read the book. What a great title! Would the work be able to live up to it?

The short answer is “mostly.” I powered through it in about a day and a half while on holiday. Mostly, I enjoyed it, although it contains a weird “PowerPoint section” that I just didn’t get. I still don’t really understand it even though I read it almost three times. It was just, well, weird!

Publisher’s Weekly describes it as a novel about “interconnected lives at the fringes of the music industry” although doesn’t warn about its tendency to leap backwards and forwards in time — not always successfully. But I found the characters engaging and pockets of the writing irresistible. Here is my favourite sentence:

They were too far away for Alex to reach them, and the distance felt irrevocable, a chasm that would keep him from ever again touching the delicate silk of Rebecca’s eyelids, or feeling, through his daughter’s ribs, the scramble of her heartbeat. 

Ooooo, some of those words are so perfect! “Delicate silk,” is the consummate term for describing eyelids, and the noun “scramble” exactly captures a child’s heartbeat. Isn’t that entire sentence unspeakably lovely?

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