What You Could Have Won: plenty to applaud but easy to get lost

Genn is to be commended for choosing two such unlikable leads for her novel about a celebrity singer's toxic relationships

Anyone interested in writing good sentences proper should get The Reader Over Your Shoulder by the poet Robert Graves and his collaborator Alan Hodge. I came across it through a recommendation from the writer Bryan MacMahon on a Sunday Miscellany podcast earlier this summer celebrating 50 years of Listowel Writers’ Week.

The book takes passages of poorly-written prose from lauded writers – TS Eliot, Daphne du Maurier and HG Wells, to name a few – and breaks them down according to the writing principles of Ancient Greece: orthology (a study of the proper formation of words), accidence (a study of the grammatical relation of words), syntax (a study of the grammatical relation of phrases) and logic, which is the study of the proper relation of ideas.

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