One Perfect Sentence #1


by Nicholas Rombes

My mother’s body stayed alive for exactly three days.

—From My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh, 2018

Not “my mother stayed alive” but “my mother’s body.” The sentence comes near the midpoint of the novel as the narrator thinks back to the death of her parents. Her mother is in a coma where, “once in a while, her left eye would blink open–clear blue, frozen, blind, a terrifying, empty soulless eye.” And then, a few sentences later: “I couldn’t revive my mother and punish her. She took herself out before we could ever have a real conversation.” The “body stayed alive” sentence, in its simplicity, is the declarative hinge upon which these memories turn. And it is a sentence that, at last, reveals more about the narrator than her mother.


About the Author:

Nicholas Rombes is author of the novel The Absolution of Robert Acestes Laing (Two Dollar Radio), Ramones, from the 33 1/3 series (Bloomsbury) and Cinema in the Digital Age (Columbia UP). His film The Removals was released in 2016. Rombes is a columnist and contributing editor at Filmmaker Magazine, and teaches in Detroit, Michigan.

Starting today, each week Rombes will comment on a “perfect” sentence from a novel or short story he’s reading. He encourages you to submit your perfect sentence and comment via Twitter @Requiem102.