Here They Come is so well written that it makes me want to quote page after page and sing the praises of the sentences and rhythms and images and tones. Instead of indulging myself quite so much, I'll just quote a paragraph and offer some comments. It's not a paragraph I spent much time looking for -- really, I just flipped through a few pages and this one caught my eye. The book is full of paragraphs as good as this:
I dial my father. He's been missing for weeks and I think maybe he's come back. I imagine him shopping at Balducci's, buying persimmons and shiny egg-white baked bread. But there's no answer. I slam the phone receiver down on the floor. It bounces. I do it again. There is now a nick in the floorboard. I don't put the receiver back in its cradle. I sit in the chair, my mother's chair. It gets dark, but I don't turn the light on. The recorded voice tells me to hang up the phone. Then it finally stops and the phone is now quiet. I look through the drawers in my mother's table, the one with all the burn marks on it. In the drawers are ripped photos. All the photos are of my mother with her missing arm around where my father used to be, but I can't find the halves with him in them.
There's a fine mix of humor and pathos in this paragraph, with the odd details -- "buying persimmons and shiny egg-white baked bread", the ripped photos -- filling out a moment where the narrator yearns for her lost father, and, by extension, so much else. She doesn't just feel frustrated, she throws the receiver down; the receiver doesn't just hit the floor, it makes a nick in the floorboard. But there's more -- the receiver lies there until the recorded voice comes on, a perfect detail of loneliness and emptiness, a literal and metaphorical lack of connection. And then those photos. We move from the aural detail of the phone to the visual detail of the photos, a detail that again conveys information about the characters while also creating a rich image. The photos are in the table "with all the burn marks on it." The mother's arm is missing, a lost limb, an amputated part of the self that was thrown away along with "where my father used to be". The narrator is searching for "the halves with him in them", the other half of something that has disappeared, replaced by a recorded voice saying it's time to break the connection.
None of the other books we read this quarter affected me as powerfully and impressed me so deeply with the rich art of their sentences and paragraphs. Others were more showy in terms of plot or conception, but for me the most impressive books are the ones full of paragraphs as complex and affecting as the paragraph above.