Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Famous Last Words

The Washington Post has an article on “The 23 most unforgettable last sentences in fiction.” Many critics and readers focus on the first sentence, but the last sentence is the one that leaves the final impression. Here are a few of my favorites.

“I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
“He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.”
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
“After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
“He loved Big Brother.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
I can't resist. Here are a couple of my favorites from my own books.

“I kept my head and Chestnut facing east.”
The Shopkeeper by James D. Best
(I didn’t want my hero to ride off into the sunset.)

“And then he was gone.”
Tempest at Dawn by James D. Best
(James Madison, an old man had left the room, but he soon after left the stage as our last remaining Founding Father.)

In truth, neither the first nor last sentence can make a good story. The entire narrative has to pull the reader forward until they read the last sentence. A story told properly will cause the reader to seek out another book by the same author.

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