Her fingers press against the rag surface of her dream…

Word count: 280 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing 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 Ruth Ozeki and her novel A Tale for the Time Being.

I read Ruth Ozeki’s latest novel, set in Japan, as quickly as if I were at risk of being engulfed by a tsunami. Although I found the beginning chapters a bit slow, they were as misleading as the beginning of a wave train. The book started slowly but steadily moved towards a transformed landscape. The mystical connection of two people who never meet, tsunamis and suicide are all plot elements that combine for a spectacular denouement. I couldn’t put the book down!

I particularly appreciated the way Ozeki was able to capture the note-perfect voice of a young teenage girl. She nails the self-absorbed, slightly whiney tone and yet also reveals enormous changes in character over the length of the story.

That said, my favourite sentence came from a section focusing on another character, an adult named Ruth. Here it is:

Her fingers press against the rag surface of her dream, recognize the tenacity of filaments and know that it is paper about to tear, but for the fibrous memory that still lingers there, supple, vascular, and standing tall. 

I like the metaphor that compares a dream to a rag. And the virtual wall of adjectives is utterly fantastic: Supple, vascular, tall. Three muscly, resonant words that create a powerful image in the mind’s eye.

If you’re looking for an engaging novel to read this summer, consider this book.

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