The exemplary sentence

Sentence DiagramI picked up a novel by John D. MacDonald, and while I don’t think he’s in the same class as Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet, he wrote a lovely description of the start of a hurricane:

“It began earlier, and in a timeless way. Flat sea baking under a tropic sun. Water temperature raised by the long summer. The still air, heated by sun and sea, rising endlessly, creating an area of low pressure to be filled by air moving in from all sides to rise in turn.

But these factors alone could not create hurakan.  There must be added the thousand miles an hour spinning of the earth itself. The warm currents rose high, and there was the effect of drag, the way a speeding car can raise dust devils along the dry shoulder of a highway. The spin began slowly at first, very slowly. At times it died out and then began again. It covered a great area, and the winds spun more more slowly at the rim of the wheel, but more quickly toward the hub. It began to gain in force and speed and it seemed to feed upon itself, to gain greater life force as it began to move…

Man spoke across the empty air above the sea. The location, direction, and velocity were charted. Man warned man. Prepare for this violence that is aimed at you.”

A well-crafted ominous tone for the start of a thriller. I like how he uses the word for the Mayan God of destruction by rain and wind, the origin of our word hurricane.


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