I occasionally teach out of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, Hecht’s collection of 1921 Chicago Daily News columns, and every time I open that book I find something new to admire. Eight of my favorite sentences/passages:
"His heart was tired of tall buildings and the endless grimace of windows."
"When in the name of 750,000 gods of reason will I ever learn enough to stay at home and go to bed instead of searching kittenishly for diversion in neighborhood movie and vaudeville houses?"
~ “Meditation in E Minor”
"Being a newspaper reporter there was nothing unusual in his mind about walking up to one of the figures and talking to it."
~ “Grass Figures”
"This is a deplorable street, a luxurious couch of a street in which the afternoon lolls like a gaudy sybarite."
~ “Michigan Avenue”
"Peewee wagged a wise old head and her vermilion mouth registered scorn at 105 degrees Farenheit."
~ “Thumbnail Lotharios”
"A mawkish tale, perhaps, and if I write it with too maudlin a slant I know who will wince the worst—Queen Bess, of course, who will sit up in her grave and, fastening a blazing eye on me, curse me out for every variety of fat-head and imbecile known to her exhaustive calendar of epithets."
~ “Queen Bess’ Feast”
"The town is like a fireless, dimly lighted room. Yesterday the windows sparkled with sunlight. Today they stare like little coffin tops."
~ “On a Day Like This”
"Here in his corner, surrounded by the molding symbols and slogans of a dead world, Dutch is rounding out his career—a Silenus in exile, his eyes still bright with the memory of hurdy-gurdy midnights."
~ “The Tattooer”
favorite Hecht story: “The Pig”
fun fact: Hecht became a screenwriter, won the first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and wrote The Front Page