Tyler Cowen writes:
I have an irrational fondness for this sentence of Mannâ€™s:
The First World War distracted governments from the task of monitoring insect movements.
The sentence from Charles C. Mann is quite good, but Cowen’s sentence is better: it encapsulates his exuberance for the written word and for heterodox points of view. (And of course, it includes Mann’s sentence, so it’s kind of a twofer. Like Tom Townsend’s callow claim in Metropolitan: “I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelists’ ideas as well as the critics’ thinking.”)
I begin, a sentence lover. I’m forever delighted, then delighted all over, at the things sentences can trip and trick you into saying, into seeing. I’m astonishedâ€”just plain tickled!â€”at the sharp turns and tiny tremors they can whip your thoughts across. I’m entranced by their lollop and flow, their prickles and points. Poetry is made of words, MallarmÃ© told us a hundred years back. But I write prose. And prose is made of sentences.