Between Two Full-Stops (1)

Marc St.Martin, who died last week, was a great writer of sentences. Whole stories were, alas, beyond him; but when it came to the single sentence, there was no one better.

He wrote sentences that would turn a story on its head; that would say, between two full-stops, what others could not say between fifty. For this reason his friends would often ask him to solve problems in their manuscripts; to contribute a sentence (or two, if he was in the mood), for which he would be paid handsomely. In such a way St.Martin made his career as a writer – almost, if not completely, unknown to the general public (though well-paid, he was never named as a contributor).

Rumour has it, indeed, that some of the most famous lines in modern european literature were written by him. He can take no credit, however, for the ideas behind those lines, or for the great narratives of which they formed part. His vision was far too limited for that. Set him on the small tasks, though, and there was no stopping him. He truly was a master of the single sentence.

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