Rachel Kushner (w/ comma poll)

From Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers:

I realized I’d been wrong.  She was not the pedigreed rich.  He was and she was not.  Sometimes all the information is there in the first five minutes, laid out for inspection. Then it goes away, gets suppressed as a matter of pragmatism. It’s too much to know a lot about strangers. But some don’t end up strangers. They end up closer, and you had your five minutes to see what they were really like and you missed it.

This is great!  My one question is about the commas in the last sentence.  If it had been me I probably would have omitted the comma after “closer,” but I sort of think Kushner’s version is better.  Then I wonder:  what about leaving the one after “closer” and adding another after “like”?

Hey, this is a good opportunity for a poll!  I’ve never put one in here before, let’s give this new WordPress functionality a swing.  (Non-standard comma used there on purpose, pedants.)

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6 thoughts on “Rachel Kushner (w/ comma poll)

  1. Priscilla Bremser says:

    Perhaps you should consult a pro: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/holy-writ (Caution: I think she’d be firm on comma splices.)

  2. dfan says:

    My opinion: 1) either just after “closer” or after both “closer” and “like” would be fine, and 2) she knows what she’s doing so the actual sentence breaks the tie.

  3. dratman says:

    I love the comma. This sentence softly informs us that a revolutionary event has taken place: “They end up closer.” The enormity of that idea, just slipped into the flow, requires the narrator to pause and let it ring in the air. Likewise the reader needs a heartbeat to feel the emotional reaction which, if not experienced, would mean a piece of the story had been lost.

  4. Richard Séguin says:

    I would prefer the comma after both “closer” and “like.”

    I don’t like this: “Then it goes away, gets suppressed.” It seems to have Flaubert’s affected style of economy. I would prefer an “and” instead of the comma.

    I Generally like commas and semicolons. However, recently I’ve noticed commas preceding “that” and “where” in some old British novels (i.e., Charles Dickens and Ann Radcliffe) that always strikes me as awkward. Here’s one of many examples:

    “It required a strong effort to abstract her thoughts from other interests sufficiently to attend to this, but she was rewarded for her exertions by again experiencing, that employment is the surest antidote to sorrow.”

  5. JSE says:

    “I don’t like the prose, it reminds me of Flaubert” has got to be the ultimate “tough crowd” of all time.

  6. Kevin says:

    I think dratman nailed it regarding the first comma; years of friendship are compressed into those first four words.

    Conversely, the second part of the sentence is about how fleeting those five minutes were. I read it as, “…and you had your five minutes to see whattheywerereallylikeandyoumissedit.”

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