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As one of the country’s premier newspapers, the Post must use every implement in the writer’s tool kit to tell its stories. No punctuation mark can go unused; no feature device can go unexplored; no literary flourish can be left behind.
An occasional feature rating the Post’s periodic attempt at belletristic grandeur:
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “They all were pregnant, with futures that seemed sure to unfold over many years.” —”Many New or Expectant Mothers Die Violent Deaths,” 12/19/04
Verdict: Yes, futures tend to do that.
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “When he finished shopping, [Wizards star Antawn] Jamison got back in his Bentley and drove off. The sun receded in the background as the new player in town explored the possibilities of a new job.” —“Jamison Comes Clean,” 12/17/04
Verdict: No—not the dreaded sunset line!
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “[Samson da Silva] knows that in these hours the dead are only dead.” —“Village of Lost Souls,” 1/3
Verdict: OK, so in what hours are the dead living?
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “The rain is returning, falling in sheets, falling in cascades from the sky, turning the long hours of the day in Kalmunai into night.” —“Cloudy Futures,” 1/6
Verdict: Day commonly turns to night without assistance from rainfall.
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “But things had long been whispered, like wind chimes, in and around the life of Terry Hairston.” —“The Doer, Undone,” 1/2
Verdict: Or even better: “Rumors on the life of Terry Hairston roiled and rumbled, bubbled and babbled, waxed and whispered, like wind chimes hanging from a porch facing a determined westerly breeze.”
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “Like a twist of a gigantic Rubik’s Cube, the court’s decision changed the entire structure of criteria facing thousands of federal criminal defendants…” —“Sentencing Standards No Longer Mandatory,” 1/13
Verdict: Green criminals will now get 10 to 15 years, orange criminals 20 to 25…
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “The snow is a bookmark in a loud world. Ordering respite, quiet, poetry.” —“A Gift From Above, Wrapped in White,” 1/23
Verdict: Invoking “poetry” apparently won’t help you actually write it.
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “We dads heard these tales secondhand and still lapped them up like the last bits of a rich Thanksgiving soup.” —“Writer’s Truths Linger With Those She Left” 1/18
Verdict: Who eats soup on Thanksgiving?
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “The one-eyed fisherman sits, balanced between sea and sky, his feet in a canoe fashioned from a hollowed-out log.” —“The One That Got Away: A Survivor’s Tale” 1/18
Verdict: Balanced between sea and sky: That’s called an airplane.
Washington Post Literary Flourish: “…Europe was full of people willing to countenance the genocide.The ideals of Western civilization were like tissue paper across the tracks of human hatred.” —“Hitler’s Inferno” 1/23
Verdict: Focus group wowed by sentence’s brevity, power, imagery.