Heart pounding but face a suave mask


Senior Member
I'm reading a short story from the 70s US magazine and the author seems to write quite weird to me sometimes. For example, I came upon this sentence:
"Heart pounding but face a suave mask, he drifted into the store's interior."

I guess he meant "[His] heart [was] pounding but [his] face [was like?] a suave mask" but is it okay to write with such omission? Or perhaps, I didn't understand the sentence.

Edit: If someone's interested where the part is from, it's from "If" magazine (August 1974). The story is "Midnight by the Morphy Watch" by Fritz Leiber.


  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The sentence is correct. There is no omission. Your guess about the meaning is correct (his face was a mask, his heart was pounding) but the grammar is correct in the original.

    The phrase before the comma is a subordinate clause describing the pronoun "he". Subordinate clauses have different grammar. Those clauses are common in English. You will see them often. Sometimes the subordinate clause is after the main clause:

    He left the room, laughing loudly. (He was laughing loudly)
    He left the building, angry and penniless. (He was angry; he was penniless)


    Senior Member
    Thank you for your reply. The example you provided are absolutely fine to my ears but the "but face a suave mask" seems to be odd. Wouldn't it be better if there was something between "face" and "a"? For example, "heart pounding but face like a suave mask"?
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