There is nothing more elegant than a well written sentence or paragraph by a great author. There is a passage from “Intruder in the Dust” where Faulkner talks about the third day at Gettysburg and eloquently captures the feeling of every Southern boy. I get chills when I read it.

Stephen Hunter is another great writer. He is the author of the Bob Lee Swagger thriller series. Maybe it’s because I’m a native Virginian, but I believe Bob Lee Swagger is the greatest name I’ve ever heard. Swagger is a retired, highly decorated Vietnam veteran, the greatest sniper to emerge from that conflict. Bob the Nailer. Living on a dusty ranch in the far reaches of nowhere, Bob Lee realizes that he is an old man in a dry month. He was an old man in a dry month. Now that’s a great sentence.

All right, my point is that I don’t just read books for the story. I like to savor the words – a well-turned phrase, a vivid image, an unexpected metaphor. It’s exciting; it’s motivating. In the hands of a brilliant writer it’s nothing less than a work of art.

Go find a good book and enjoy the story, but don’t forget to taste the words.

Advertisements