When We Don’t Land

Brian Doyle, a writer’s writer and purveyor of hard earned, deeply studied joy, died recently. While living, he was often taken to task for stretching the bounds of grammar. Below I’ve copied James M. Chesbro’s defense of Doyle’s (de)compositions. It’s pulled from an obituary, but the part I’m emphasizing is really more of a lesson for aspiring writers and readers (as Doyle would probably want it).

Some may find Doyle’s run-on sentences to be an irritation, but that’s also part of his genius. When we don’t land on the deep breath of a period and instead skip by on another comma, we are looking at a subject with Doyle’s sustained gaze, and eventually he takes us to a fresh metaphor, or an unexpected insight. [Source.]

The why is buried in the how. Confusion is a sign that a door is cracked open. When we don’t land as expected, we are looking elsewhere, unexpected. Reading a writer’s writer has its just rewards.

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