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

Author: 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?

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