Monday, December 19, 2005

Archive of the Day

Here's a new feature, kids. I want to occasionally share a favorite sentence or paragraph of mine, preferably from things not too recently published. This first gem comes from The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (which I was re-reading portions of because it has some terrific lines about both Texas and New York that I hope to incorporate in a future post). But for now, this. It comes after Chuck Yeager has broken the sound barrier, and the beginning of what I share is for context; it's the last sentence in particular -- all 129 words of it -- that really knocks me out. It barrels along in that Wolfeian way that threatens to become too tornadic, but then absolutely sticks the landing with that final image.
"A top security lid was was being put on the morning's events. That the press was not to be informed went without saying. But neither was anyone else, anyone at all, to be told. Word of the flight was not to go beyond the flight line. And even among the people directly involved -- who were there and knew about it, anyway -- there was to be no celebrating. Just what was on the minds of the brass at Wright is hard to say. Much of it, no doubt, was a simple holdover from wartime, when every breakthrough of possible strategic importance was kept under wraps. ....

"In any case, by mid-afternoon Yeager's tremendous feat had become a piece of thunder with no reverberation. A strange and implausible stillness settled over the event. Well...there was not supposed to be any celebration, but come nightfall...Yeager and Ridley and some of the others ambled over to Pancho's. After all, it was the end of the day, and they were pilots. So they knocked back a few. And they had to let Pancho in on the secret, because Pancho had said she'd serve a free steak dinner to any pilot who could fly supersonic and walk in here to tell about it, and they had to see the look on her face. So Pancho served Yeager a big steak dinner and said they were a buncha miserable peckerwoods all the same, and the desert cooled off and the wind came up and the screen doors banged and they drank some more and bawled some songs over the cackling dry piano and the stars and the moon came out and Pancho screamed oaths no one had ever heard before and Yeager and Ridley roared and the old weatherbeaten bar boomed and the autographed pictures of a hundred dead pilots shook and clattered on the frame wires and the faces of the living fell apart in the reflections, and by and by they all left and stumbled and staggered and yelped and bayed for glory before the arthritic silhouettes of the Joshua trees."


Blogger Dezmond said...

Great sentence, great book...even greater movie. One of my Top 10 films of all time, easy.

9:58 AM  

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