One does not often encounter sentences of 84-words in the leads of newspaper articles so I when I did today, I thought it worth consideration. If it were a perfect world — that is to say Faulknerian in its very essence, which would clearly demonstrate such literary mastery over such a great bevy of words — truly long-distance sentence casts would be magnificent examples of word smithery.
But they are not. And it is hardly a perfect world.
I have written elsewhere in this virtual patch that a plethora of prepositional phrases is not a good thing. It makes for lumpy prose.
Here is the 84-word lead, which appeared today:
“Drive east on Interstate 10 and then southeast on Highway 80, directly into the wild blue yonder, and you will find a rickety old ballpark with some lively baseball, played between guys down to their last at-bat in a game they love but does not always love them back, guys desperate to squeeze one more pitch out of their talent, guys willing to subsist on $50 a week and maybe a nice meal or two, just to get one last shot chasing the dream.”
There are a number of prepositional phrases in this runaway train, too many, to state the obvious. There is a simple remedy for this problem, also obvious.
Which brings to mind the well-worn quote from the legendary Turner Catledge, managing editor of The New York Times:
“The composing room has an unlimited supply of periods available to terminate short, simple sentences.”
June Caldwell Martin comments:
“But it tracks. And builds suspense.”