Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

100 Best Last Lines

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 100 Best Last Lines

    Via Matthew Yglesias comes this list, from americanbookreview.org. No methodology provided here, and surprisingly heavy on 20th-century books, but it's hard to quibble with the vast majority of them.

    Anyway. Have a look. See what you think. Any obvious omissions? (Here, by the way, is the list of nominated last lines.)

  • #2
    '"Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I'm twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh..." and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry's is a sign in letters that match the drapes' color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.'
    —Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho

    Edit: by the way, it's curious how many of those High Modernist novels insist on the word "yes" in their last sentences.
    Last edited by fearful_syzygy; 12-06-2009, 09:49 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
      '"Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I'm twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh..." and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry's is a sign in letters that match the drapes' color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.'
      —Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho

      Edit: by the way, it's curious how many of those High Modernist novels insist on the word "yes" in their last sentences.
      I really should have a look at American Psycho, if only because of its adventure in getting published. But that's some pretty good writing, too.

      It's in the list of nominations, but this one should have made the Top 100, in my opinion:
      "He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest."
      —Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
      Re your observation: It's a good one. Let's spin a theory here--that High Modernism is pretty darned affirming, if not about the State of Things, then at least about the power of Art to make sense of said Things.

      Or, maybe they're all just hitching their wagon to Ulysses' star?

      Comment


      • #4
        Infinite Jest was also nominated but definitely deserved to make the cut.

        Also, Kafka was robbed at thirty-whatever-it-was. Definitely one of the best closing lines of modern literature, but the Muir translation doesn't really do it justice in my opinion ("must" simply doesn't adequately render the "sollte"). For good measure, the original:
        Aber an K.’s Gurgel legten sich die Hände des einen Herrn, während der andere das Messer ihm ins Herz stieß und zweimal dort drehte. Mit brechenden Augen sah noch K. wie nahe vor seinem Gesicht die Herren Wange an Wange aneinandergelehnt die Entscheidung beobachteten. "Wie ein Hund!" sagte er, es war, als sollte die Scham ihn überleben.
        It's also a nice antidote to the affirmation of the other modernists on the list.

        Speaking of which, the last lines of Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus (1947) are pretty good. Here they are complete with lamentably gauche translation in a footnote.

        Edit:
        Originally posted by John B.
        But that's some pretty good writing, too.
        It's even better if you quote it right. It's supposed to say:
        ...and above the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry's is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes' color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.
        Last edited by fearful_syzygy; 12-06-2009, 05:01 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Two more shoulda/coulda been includeds--or at least nominateds (full disclosure: I have a weak spot for the nouvelle roman):

          FAREWELL TO THE READER

          This cadence looks weak to you, reader? But who knows how one should have concluded? Like you, the author is not unaware that in terms of importance, the last lines are in no way inferior to the first ones. But what's the good of increasing the number of final words? All the tricks in the world won't give a definitive conclusion to these pages, which are not capable of having one.

          'Oh, one more push!' you say. 'Just a little more effort and we'll let you go.'

          Well, let's say that in the final analysis, this text could claim to be a very classic novel. Is it not the story of an ever deferred meeting, of a frustrated love strewn with obstacles and crosspieces which is the victim of illusions and regrets? Of an unhappy and perhaps ultimately impossible love, that of its author for a certain kind of literature.
          —Marcel Bénabou, Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books (trans. David Kornacker)

          Now the dark night and the deafening racket of the crickets again engulf the garden and the veranda, all around the .
          —Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy (trans. Richard Howard)
          Last edited by John B.; 12-07-2009, 09:46 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            : bump :

            Now with a list of 30 favorite opening lines, this one from a different place. Heavy on 20th century and contemporary titles, though with some nice surprises from the inky shadows of the past. The compiler has a taste for the startling, which isn't necessarily the same as "best," of course. Choices in the comment section are good as well.

            One of my own choices:
            Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian:

            See the child. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. Outside lie dark turned fields with rags of snow and darker woods beyond that harbor yet a few last wolves. His folk are known for hewers of wood and drawers of water but in truth his father is a schoolteacher. He lies in drink, he quotes from poets whose names are now lost. The boy crouches by the fire and watches him.

            Night of your birth. Thirty-three. The Leonids they were called. My how the stars did fall. I looked for blackness, holes in the heavens. The Dipper stove.

            The mother dead these fourteen years did incubate in her own bosom the creature who would carry her off. The father never speaks her name, the child does not know it. He has a sister in this world that he will not see again. He watches, pale and unwashed. He can neither read nor write and in him already broods a taste for mindless violence. All history present in that visage, the child the father of the man.

            Comment


            • #7
              Lots of books I don't know in that list. Of the one's I do know, I've only read Gravity's Rainbow and Huck Finn all the way through. Never did finish Lolita and was completely unimpressed with Fear and Loathing. Still want to read Moby Dick for obvious reasons.

              Any recommendations for the other books in the list?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by heartbreak
                Any recommendations for the other books in the list?
                I don't know a lot of the titles, either. But I can recommend García Márquez--though THE book of his to read is, still, One Hundred Years of Solitude--Beckett, and Camus.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Cool. Thanks. I do recognize the title One Hundred Years of Solitude. I'm currently reading 2666, spring break is coming up soon, will hopefully finish it and be looking for more to read.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think you would really enjoy If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Calvino, heartbreak. And if you haven't read 1984 you must do so forthwith.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I read 1984 and Brave New World in high school. We had to do a big project representing the books and comparing and contrasting them. My group did an amusement park based on the books. I was in a drafting class at the time and so I did up blue prints for the whole thing. Wish I still had them.

                      I've started If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. Excellent as far as I've read.

                      Thanks for the recs though. :)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What he murmured after that could not be understood. Those last two days Narcissus sat by his bed day and night, watching his life ebb away. Goldmund's last words burned like fire in his heart.
                        Herman Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Dressing the wound hurt. Everything that has happened to me since has hurt. But sometimes when I find the key and climb deep into myself where the images of fate lie aslumber in the dark mirror, I need only bend over that dark mirror to behold my own image, now completely resembling him, my brother, my master.
                          Hermann Hesse, Demian

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            "Great, I sigh, swallowing a mouthful of blood. Looks like I'm going to be spending the rest of my life in prison.
                            But at least I'll be able to get some crack."

                            SMOKING IS COOL- Andrew Moody

                            (Never miss a chance to plug my "masterpiece", huh, chicos?)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by John B.
                              though THE book of his to read is, still, One Hundred Years of Solitude--
                              My brother changed his last name to Buendia because of this book.

                              And as for those opening lines: I was going to scream if Lolita didn't make it. I recite that quote from memory on a regular basis, simply because it's almost a song that gets stuck in my head.
                              The description before it is pretty good. I laughed.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X