A short blog about a long sentence Christianity

“Jesus wept” is the shortest sentence in the Bible, and for so many reasons it is also a very powerful sentence. However, the phrase I want to talk about is not about the Son of God, but about a dog, more precisely – a man and his dog – and their travels through America.

I had heard of John Steinbeck at school, but I had never read any of his books. I think his subject didn’t appeal to a teenager. It was a dog walk that eventually led me to this great man’s work. Another dog walker I know from our local library who knows my dog’s name is Charlie recommended Steinbeck’s book to me, and I’m very glad he did.

It took me a while to get involved, but it wasn’t long before I read extracts to my wife on a regular basis, mostly when Steinbeck mentioned his dog. A French poodle he calls Charley. The following piece is one of my favorites.

That night was so cold that I put on my insulated underwear for my pajamas, and when Charley finished his duties and drank his biscuits and consumed his usual gallon of water, and finally curled up under his bed in his place, I dug up an extra blanket and covered him – all but the tip of his nose – and he sighed and wiggled and moaned in sheer ecstatic comfort

A set of 72 words. Not a giant like Virginia Woolf’s epic 181-word sentence that opens her essay “On Being Ill” – I spotted this whopper in Francine Prose’s excellent “Reading like a Writer” and the chapter on sentences – but one of the most delightful sentences that I’ve ever come across It feels wonderfully comforting, almost like a line you would read in a child’s bedtime story. The comma is used perfectly. You’ll want to take a breath, of course, after reading about Charley’s bedtime. The sweet sentence between the lines. And that delightful ending that makes me comfort myself!

I’m about 100 pages from the end and it’s my bedside book – so it may take a while since I only manage a page or two before turning off the bedside lamp – but maybe that warrants another post.

I would love to hear your favorite long or short sentences, thoughts about Steinbeck or books that you have read that contain the sentences you want to shout from the rooftops.

Until next time, may you have many moments that make you sigh in “pure ecstatic comfort”.

Martin is a writer, baker, photographer and storyteller. It was published in the ACW Christmas Anthology and Lent Devotional. He is currently honing his craft at Flash Fiction and you can find him on Twitter Here.

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