Here are a couple of the sentences he chose:
Jonathan Swift (from A Tale of a Tub, 1704): "Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance for the worse."
I wouldn't have chosen Fish's sentences; I don't like any of them at all, actually. The Swift, for instance, isn't particularly clever or sly or whatever -- it's just grotesque, and if that's his point, fine. But I don't have to like it. And the Ford Ford is really just too much: the wind as a polishing black flood? Wind being wind is enough, for me.
Ford Madox Ford (from The Good Soldier, 1915): "And I shall go on talking in a low voice while the sea sounds in the distance and overhead the great black flood of wind polishes the bright stars."
In college I learned that a perfect sentence is a line of iambic pentameter, that the English language strives toward that shape. And I like surprises, simplicity, and deadly accuracy in sentences. I don't collect sentences, but I think Nabokov wrote my favorites. Here's one from Pnin that's painted on the wall of the Cornell English department:
The brook in the gully behind the garden, a trembling trickle most of the time, was tonight a loud torrent that tumbled over itself in its avid truckling to gravity, as it carried through corridors of beech and spruce last year's leaves, and some leafless twigs, and a brand-new, unwanted soccer ball that had recently rolled into the water from the sloping lawn after Pnin disposed of it by defenestration.Gawd, I love that sentence. Not, for sure, an iambic pentameter, but so vividly specific, and heartbreaking -- Pnin bought that soccer ball for the son he had never met, wildly guessing what a teenage boy would like.
What do you like in a sentence?