The Broke and The Bookish have thrown down the gauntlet once again, challenging fellow book bloggers to list the best beginnings and endings of books. Regular readers will remember that I pretty much covered my favourite beginnings in this post, ‘A Good Opening Line Can Make All the Difference’, so I think I’ll focus on endings here.
1. Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, ‘So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.’
Listen to him read it here:
2. Race by Studs Terkel, ‘I look at older people now and I love them. My father is beautiful…he says things that I think are crazy, and a few years later I find out that it wasn’t so crazy. That guy knew what he was talking about. If somehow we could get objectivity. If there were some big universal mirror…
I have faith we can mature. Stranger things have happened. Maybe America, maybe the world is in its adolescence. Maybe we’re driving home from the prom, drunk, and nobody knows whether we’re going to survive or not. Maybe we’ll survive and maybe we’ll be a pretty smart old person, well-adjusted and mellow.
I am guardedly optimistic- definitely guardedly. If everything is going to hell, it would be hard for me to get up in the morning. But I can’t honestly say, “sure, things will get better.” We might not make it home from the prom.’
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, ‘Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
5. James Joyce’s The Dead, ‘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.’
6. Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck (look out for a review later this week), ‘”I have not been so happy since I was a child,” she told them. “I remember now that when I was a child I loved to run into the rain-‘…
“Heaven sends the rain,” she said. “How can I, a mortal, command the clouds?”‘
But they insisted, and she could see they desired eagerly to praise her.
“It is for your sake, Old Buddha, that the rain comes down, the fortunate rain, blessing us all because of you.”
“Well, well,” she said, and laughed to indulge them. “Perhaps,” she said, “perhaps-“
8. William Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.’
9. Gerry Stoker’s Why Politics Matters ‘Achieving mass democracy was the great triumph of the twentieth century. Learning to live with it will be the great achievement of the twenty-first.’
10. Dave Gorman vs. The Rest of The World ‘Do you play any games? Real life, not computer games. Would you like a game?’
Full evaluations of the last two can be found in this post about how to effectively end a non-fiction piece. Please not that the numbering is not a ranking, just the order in which they occurred to me.
What do you think of my selections? What are your favourite endings of books?