I have a question about stringing clauses together. The following is an excerpt from a book called 'Jolie Blon's Bounce' by James Lee Burke:

...I wanted to drive deep into the Atchafalaya Swamp, past the confines of reason, into the past, into a world of lost dialects, gator hunters, busthead whiskey, moss harvesters, Jax beer, trotline runners, moonshiners, muskrat trappers, cockfights, bloodred boudin, a jigger of Jim Beam lowered into a frosted schooner of draft, outlaw shrimpers, dirty rice black from the pot, hogmeat cooked in rum, Pearl and Regal and Grand Prize and Lone Star iced down in washtubs, crawfish boiled with cob corn and artichokes, all of it on the tree-flooded, alluvial rim of the world, where the tides and the course of the sun were the only measures of time.

Is this simply a case of a 'list'-style sentence? Or is it something more complex? It's a very long sentence, and I'm wondering how accurate the grammar is? If it's correct, can someone explain why? What exactly is happening? I understand dependent and independent clauses, but in a case like this I'm unsure of what's really going on.

Any help on this is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • 1
    It certainly looks "grammatical" to me. As you suspect, structurally it's a list (and lists within lists). What exactly do you want "explained"? Sep 18, 2014 at 16:27
  • I'm wanting to know what this type of sentence structure is called. I'm also not sure why conjunctions aren't needed between some of the clauses - for example, 'hogmeat cooked in rum'. This has its own subject and verb, but there is no conjunction.
    – Hugo
    Sep 18, 2014 at 19:26
  • cooked in rum is not a verb phrase, it's a past-tense verb being used as an adjective to modify hogmeat.
    – Barmar
    Sep 18, 2014 at 19:48
  • @Hugo: I'm still not with you. You mean you want a "better" name than "'list'-style sentence"? In Lit Crit terms it's got much in common with the stream of consciousness style - except your example seems to maintain strict grammar throughout, which "stream" writing characteristically abandons. The hogmeat cooked in rum element is part of the "list within a list" starting at a world of lost dialects, [a world of] X, [a world of] Y... and finally ending at ...crawfish boiled with cob corn and artichokes. Sep 18, 2014 at 20:46
  • Haha, sorry FumbleFingers. I was wondering if there was an actual name for this 'list-style sentence'. I think what Barmar said helps explain where I was getting confused. Sorry I can't explain properly; I'm still getting to grips with all the bits and pieces that make up a sentence. I saw the verbs in the paragraph and wondered why conjunctions weren't being used, but as Barmar said, specifically about the hogmeat, those verbs aren't being used as verb phrases, but as adjectives.
    – Hugo
    Sep 18, 2014 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


I found what I was looking for. The name is 'cumulative sentence'.


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