I had a couple of people (Readerville and Nithin) leave me suggestions in response to last week’s post on Beginnings, but this one was already on its way! I mean, it was the obvious next question….
What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?
I actually DOhave a favorite last sentence. It’s from Janet Evanovich’s Two For the Dough: Morelli tells Stephanie that she’s the worst bounty hunter ever, she gets mad and shoves him out the door, and tells him “This is war!” To which he flirtatiously replies:
“Lucky for me,” Morelli said. “I give good war.”
I’ve never suddenly liked a book simply for a great wrap-up sentence. If the last 300 pages sucked, one final sentence isn’t going to change that. What the last sentence is for me is the parting kiss of an intimate friend. Depending on the quality of our relationship, that kiss may be something that warms my heart and helps me hold onto the joy and pride and love I’ve felt, or it can be a kiss I’m in a hurry to get through, happy it’s over so I’ll never have to see it again and awkward because the kiss-giver doesn’t realize how much I can’t stand it.
I think beginnings and endings provide a frame, but if the middle is terrible then the reader will never make it to the end. Great Bs and Es with a crap middle is like taking an antique frame and putting your kindergartners stick people drawing in it. Likewise, a flat B and E with a phenomenal middle is like hanging a Monet over the garbage can.