I’m continually baffled by this. If the sentences don’t work—in their unexpected exactitudes, in their rhythms and freshness, in their allusiveness and connotative complexity—how does the story work? Is the story not being told with sentences?
Exactly. And then there are writers whose sentences always surprise with their inevitable loving precision. Henry Green, early Evelyn Waugh, Walt Whitman, Toni Morrison, Chekhov, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Flaubert, Nabokov, Montaigne, Dickinson, Agee, Beckett, Melville, Günter Grass, George Eliot, García Márquez, our lists go on and differ year by year. I keep the works of my current deities in easy reach. Scanning even one of their living sentences can resurrect me like CPR. People talk of plot and character, but too few genuflect to the beauty and power of the actual single sentence itself.