A Sentence by Gardner

This is one of those lovely long sentences that so fascinate me, this time from Gardner, who is one of American literature’s mostly forgotten gems.  I’m parsing out his books, one every couple of years, because I can hardly face the day when there are no more to be read.  The following sentence is a compelling argument for why I feel this way.

“There would come the magical exchange of rings, the lifting of the veil, the kiss, and then Aunt Anna would play the organ maniacally, tromping the pedals, not caring how many of the notes she missed, for Callie (poor Callie whom we all knew well) had died before her time and had been lifted to Glory — and the rice would rain down (Uncle Gordon ducking, trying to snap pictures, shielding the expensive camera he’d bought for taking pictures of the flowers in his garden and the prize turkeys he raised for the Fair) — rice and confetti raining down like seeds out of heaven, numberless as stars or the sands of the seashore, shining like the coins that dropped from Duncan’s pockets — and then the symbolic biting of the cake, the emptying of the fragile glass (Uncle Gordon taking more pictures, frenetic, even George Loomis the eternal bachelor smiling, joyful, quoting scraps of what he said was Latin verse): they would join her in all this, yet could no more help her, support her, defend her than if they were standing on the stern of a ship drawing steadily away from her, and she (in the fine old beaded and embroidered white gown, the veil falling softly from the circlet on her forehead), she, Callie, on a small boat solemn as a catafalque of silver, failing away toward night.”

 

 

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