Snapshots Of People

Here are two excellent examples from Tobias Wolffs This Boy's Life: A Memoir, and one from Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. Each runs only fifty to seventy words, yet look at the powerful images they achieve.

She made the world seem friendly. And somehow, with her, it was. She would talk with anyone, anywhere, in grocery stores, or ticket lines or restaurants, drawing them out and listening to their stories with intense concentration and partisan outbursts of sympathy. My mother did not expect to find people dull or mean; she assumed they would be likeable and interesting, and they felt this assurance, and mostly lived up to it.

Tobias Wolff

This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Delia and Philomena were large women, great-breasted and fierce. When they sailed along the sidewalks of Brooklyn lesser creatures stepped aside, respect was shown. The sisters knew what was right and they knew what was wrong and any doubts could be resolved by the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. They knew that Angela, unmarried, had no right to be in an interesting condition and they would take steps.

Frank McCourt Angelas Ashes

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