One Perfect Sentence #2


by Nicholas Rombes

From Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett, 2016.

Everybody knows deep down that life is as much about the things that do not happen as the things that do and that’s not something that ought to be glossed over or denied because without frustration there would hardly be any need to daydream.

The narrator is thinking of an old letter she’s come across, reflecting on the fact that “a letter attests to something that did not happen, that could not happen, it will not come to rest.” It’s difficult to write about things that haven’t happened, and yet that’s what fiction is, that’s what fiction does. The narrator’s confidence: everybody knows. It sweeps us along. Everybody knows deep down, so that even as we try to dodge it, deny it, gloss over it, we can’t escape all the alternate, forking paths not taken. In a way, Pond is a book of daydreaming rooted in all the little things that have happened and have not happened to the narrator. The sentence is matched by another one near the very end of the book about a monster who has been watching the narrator “all along, all my life.”

The “everybody knows” sentence gets at so much. Without the things that do not happen there would be no daydreaming, and without daydreaming there would be no Pond.


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.

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.