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The Spool, editorially speaking, is firmly opposed to wanton literary deconstruction. This leaves us in a bit of a bind when it comes to the art of criticism (our third favorite art), as often the best defense is a thorough shredding up of the object at hand. And there's no better way to impress upon your audience the amazing depth of your baboonish pomposity than to find, in a handful of words, volumes of meaning most of which the author more than likely never imagined. Authors can be so silly that way.

So here in Words in Print, the ever so literary section of The Spool of Destiny, we present, this time around, just one paragraph, without further explanation, critique, or discussion of any sort, and allow it to speak (or not) for itself.

 

A Perfect Paragraph

from The Centaur by John Updike

With a faint rending noise the tires came loose from the frozen earth of the barn ramp. The resistance of the car's weight diminished; sluggishly we were gliding downhill. We both hopped in, the doors slammed, and the car picked up speed on the gravel road that turned and dipped sharply around the barn. The stones crackled like slowly breaking ice under our tires. With a dignified acceleration the car swallowed the steepest part of the incline, my father let the clutch in, the chassis jerked, the motor coughed, caught, caught, and we were aloft, winging along the pink straightaway between a pale green meadow and a fallow flat field. Our road was so little travelled that in the center it had a mane of weeds. My father's grim lips half-relaxed. He poured shivering gasoline into the hungry motor. If we stalled now, we would be out of luck, for we were on the level and there would be no more coasting. He pushed the choke halfway in. Our motor purred in a higher key. Through the clear margins of the sheet of frost on our windshield I could see forward; we were approaching the edge of our land. Our meadow ended where the land lifted. Our gallant black hood sailed into the sharp little rise of road, gulped it down, stones and all, and spat it out behind us. On our right, Silas Schoelkopf's mailbox saluted us with a stiff red flag. We had escaped our land. I looked back: our home was a little set of buildings lodged on the fading side of the valley. The barn overhang and the chicken house were gentle red. The stuccoed cube where we had slept released like a last scrap of dreaming a twist of smoke that told blue against the purple woods. The road dipped again, our farm disappeared, and we were unpursued. Schoelkopf had a pond, and ducks the color of old piano keys were walking on the ice. On our left, Jesse Flagler's high whitewashed barn seemed to toss a mouthful of hay in our direction. I glimpsed the round brown eye of a breathing cow.

 


© 1999 P.D. Appert
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