Good Writing

Frank Bruni publishes lines submitted by his readers that quote speech that is particularly vivid. This week’s were particularly gripping (and make me humble about my own efforts).

Another crowd favorite: David Brooks’s assertion that “if you don’t breathe the spirit of the nation, if you don’t have a fierce sense of belonging to each other, you’re not going to sacrifice for the common good. We’re confronted with a succession of wicked problems and it turns out we’re not even capable of putting on a friggin’ mask.” (Amanda Schack, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Deborah Hartman, Houston; and others)
And another: Roger Cohen’s observation that “nationalism is not fascism but is a necessary component of it. Both seek to change the present in the name of an illusory past in order to create a future vague in all respects except its glory.” (Chris Warsaw, Carefree, Ariz.; Mary Ellen Roche, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and others)
And still one more: The response by Senator Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran and double amputee, to Tucker Carlson and anyone else who questions her dedication to, and veneration of, America. They should know, she wrote, “that attacks from self-serving, insecure men who can’t tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism will never diminish my love for this country — or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don’t have to. These titanium legs don’t buckle.” (Graciela Daichman, Houston; Joe Doggett, Beijing; and many others)
Gail Collins and Bret Stephens produced a trove of gems in a recent edition of “The Conversation,” their online back-and-forth, including this from Gail: “Life with Trump keeps reminding me of that scene in ‘Peter Pan’ where Tinker Bell is dying and the audience revives her by clapping to prove they all believe in fairies. Worried about a pandemic? Just keep saying everything’s fine and magic will happen.” (Mark Van Loon, Hamilton, Mont.)
Dana Jennings’s intensely vivid account of his and his father’s work at a New Hampshire factory that became a Superfund hazardous-waste site includes this description of a “Bleak Lagoon” of toxic runoff, of “silt and slurry, scum and sludge. All this lethal offal seeped and oozed into the ground, into the rills and runnels that flowed beneath our town, where we all drank well-water.” (Janice Aubrey, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Many of you were taken with “America’s Enduring Caste System,” by Isabel Wilkerson, published in The New York Times Magazine, and you singled out various passages, including this: “An old house is its own kind of devotional, a dowager aunt with a story to be coaxed out of her, a mystery, a series of interlocking puzzles awaiting solution.” (Kathy Lazar, Brecksville, Ohio)
For pith, try this from Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation: “Our economy is unbalanced because conscious choices, in the aggregate, amount to a conscienceless capitalism.” (Nancy Sanfilippo Newton, Rochester, N.Y.)
Or this, by Amanda Hess, writing about the comeback of the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks) after many years of ostracism for bluntly stated political views: “They move with the energy of witches who could not be burned.” (Bill McGrath, Chimacum, Wash.)
Or check out the finish of this paragraph by Maureen Dowd: “Biden’s fabulist flights were an effort to make himself look better. Trump’s are more audacious — and dangerous. It’s the difference between fibs and whoppers, white lies and white supremacy.” (Conrad Macina, Landing, N.J.)
Or savor Paige Martin Reynolds’s description of her devotion to her son, who is autistic: “I empty myself for him and love fills me back up in overwhelming waves.” (Ste Kubenka, Austin, Tex.)
“For the Love of Sentences” appears every two to three weeks. To nominate favorite bits of writing from The Times, please email [Frank Bruni] here, and please include your name and place of residence.