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Close The Year Out With Some Best-Selling Last Words

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
December 30, 2012

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They’re your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I’m especially fond of:

The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald”So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

MiddlemarchGeorge Eliot”But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Still Life With WoodpeckerTom Robbins”But I can and will remind you of two of the most important facts I know: (1) Everything is part of it. (2) It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

The Good EarthPearl Buck”"Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold.’ But over the old man’s head they looked at each other and smiled.”

The Dharma BumsJack Kerouac”Then I added ‘Blah,’ with a little grin, because I knew that shack and that mountain would understand what that meant, and turned and went on down the trail back to this world.”

Angela’s AshesFrank McCourt”I stand on the deck with the Wireless Officer looking at the lights of America twinkling. He says, ‘My God, that was a lovely night, Frank. Isn’t this a great country altogether?’ ‘Tis.’”

The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson”Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

The DeadJames Joyce “His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

The Silence of the LambsThomas Harris “But the face on the pillow, rosy in the firelight, is certainly that of Clarice Starling, and she sleeps deeply, sweetly, in the silence of the lambs.”

The World According to GarpJohn Irving”In the world according to her father, Jenny Garp knew, we must have energy. Her famous grandmother, Jenny Fields, once thought of us as Externals, Vital Organs, Absentees, and Goners. But in the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.” (Note: John Irving has told interviewers that he always writes the last lines of his novels first.)

What last lines would you share from your favorite books? Please add yours to the comments section below. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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