The Paris Review

The Sentence That Is a Story

In our eight-part series Life Sentence, the literary critic Jeff Dolven takes apart and puts back together one beloved or bedeviling sentence. The artist Tom Toro illustrates each sentence Dolven chooses.

©Tom Toro

The first thing I want to do is give you the sentence, so here it is. I typed it, and now you read it, in that order:

And the first thing I wanted to do, but I did not do it, was pray.

The sentence is the last line from an essay by Kristin Dombek, “,” which appeared four years ago in . If you haven’t read it, now is a good time, right in the

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