The elegance of the long sentence, the punch of the short
In an essay for the Los Angeles Times, Pico Iyer sounds a rallying cry for the long, winding, clause-filled sentence that majestically unfurls itself. “I’m using longer and longer sentences as a small protest against — and attempt to rescue any readers I might have from — the bombardment of the moment,” he writes.
You can read the full essay here.
As a writer and a reader, I love the long sentence as much as the short. (Often, I love their juxtaposition on the same page, the setting up of a staccato one by a limpidly flowing one.)
I am entranced by what Alan Hollinghurst or Orhan Pamuk can do with elliptical, allusive, cadenced, pitch-perfect sentences. At the same time, I am just as much an admirer of the spareness of JM Coetzee or Raymond Carver, and of Ernest Hemingway’s multi-layered, textured simple declaratives, which many readers mistakenly tend to think of as ‘simple’. VS Naipaul can do both, often on the same page.
What about you? Does any one kind of sentence work for you? Should it?