Damn Fine Sentence #29

What if nobody cares?

Dawn Downey
1 min readJul 3, 2023

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Frequently while I’m reading, a sentence grabs me and forces me to stop. I pay tribute to other authors by sharing their Damn Fine Sentences with you. Then I recount a memory the words bring up for me. It’s about how books connect with your life.

Damn Fine Sentence #29

“To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay.”
— — — Toni Morrison
— — — Beloved

At an author reading, I shared my essay about watching an old Liza Minnelli television special, how betrayed I felt when she broke out in a minstrel song.

Reading the essay, I brought my audience along every step of the way from the beginning of Liza’s concert to the soul-crushing climax. From anticipation, to trust — she was going to put on a great show — to disbelief — did she say what I thought she said — and finally to my sense of betrayal.

At the moment of betrayal, I expected my audience to gasp in sympathy. I expected their eyes to widen in dismay.

Blank stares.

I may as well have been spilling my heart to empty chairs. It was embarrassing, standing there all naked emotion, and no one even noticing, much less caring.

Fair enough, I thought. This is not my audience. Move on.

After the reading ended, the proprietor said, “That was great! Let me know when your next book comes out so we can have you back.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I sure will.”

But — I don’t know.

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