The exemplary sentence

Sentence DiagramHere are a few excerpts from the best book I read this month, The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

“Massacre is obscene. Torture is obscene. Three million dead is obscene. Masturbation, even with an admittedly nonconsensual squid? Not so much. I for one, am a person who believes that the world would be a better place if the word “murder” made us mumble as much as the word “masturbation.”

sympathizer“…no one asks poor people if they want war. Nor had anyone asked these poor people if they wanted to die of thirst and exposure on the coastal sea, or if they wanted to be robbed and raped by their own soldiers. If those thousands still lived, they would not have believed how they had died, just as we could not believe that the Americans—our friends, our benefactors, our protectors—had spurned our request to send more money. And what would we have done with the money? Buy the ammunition, gas, and spare parts for the weapons, planes, and tanks the same Americans had bestowed on us for free. Having given us the needles, they now perversely no longer supplied the dope. (Nothing, the General muttered, is ever so expensive as what is offered for free.)”

“My vocabulary was broader, my grammar more precise than the average educated American. I could hit the high notes as well as the low, and thus had no difficulty in understanding Claude’s characterization of the ambassador as a “putz,” a “jerkoff,” with “his head up his ass” who was in denial about the city’s imminent fall.

“I was a card-carrying American with a driver’s license, Social Security card, and resident alien permit. Violet still considered me as foreign, and this misrecognition punctured the smooth skin of my self-confidence…The flawlessness of my English did not matter. Even if she could hear me, she still saw right though me, or perhaps saw someone else instead of me, her retinas burned with the images of all the castrati dreamed up by Hollywood to take the place of real Asian men.”

“I was in close quarters with some representative specimens of the most dangerous creature in the history of the world, the white man in a suit.”



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