Is This a Good Sentence?

From Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay:

The natural fragrance of her body was a spicy, angry smell like that of fresh pencil shavings.

Aliya Whiteley’s brother says that:

pencil shavings do not smell spicy or angry. And the whole idea of pencil shavings smelling angry had made him very angry. What kind of a rubbish writerly phrase is this? Is it style over meaning?


As a Chabon fanboy who foists copies of Gentlemen of the Road on friends, I can confirm that this is a wonderful sentence. (I think.)

Oh, look. A glass of water.

*slurp*

Spicey.

Aliya Whiteley and Neil Ayres

Published by

Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Is This a Good Sentence?”

  1. I’m sorry, but I disagree. Pencil shavings smell woody, not spicy. And I’m not sure how anything can smell “angry” unless you’re talking about pheremones.

    Maybe she eats pencil shavings for lunch?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *