Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Puffin prose

In "The Way of the Puffin" in the April 21 New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen traces the origins of a stuffed puffin golf-club cover back to the factory in China, with some visits along the way to Chinese nature reserves and bird-watchers' meetings. First, though, he explains his love-hate relationship with golf:

My difficulty with golf is that, although I play it once or twice a year to be sociable, I dislike almost everything about it. The point of the game seems to be the methodical euthanizing of workday-sized chunks of time by well-off white men. Golf eats land, drinks water, displaces wildlife, fosters sprawl. I dislike the self-congratulations of its etiquette, the self-important hush of its television analysts. Most of all, I dislike how badly I play the game. Spelled backward, golf is flog.

I'm not much of a fan of golf, but I'm a big fan of Franzen's use of parallel structure in the third sentence and the clunky, bumptious phraseology in the second half of the second sentence.

But what does golf have to do with puffins? To find out, you'll have to read the article.

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