points to an article
about last lines:
One of the favourite games of literary people is that of best first lines. Everyone enjoys reciting them; the bizarre (Earthly Powers), the haunting (Rebecca), the august (Anna Karenina), the casual (Howards End) or the strangely anonymous (Jane Eyre). First lines are great fun. But they aren't really as important to a novel as the last lines. From a terrible first line, a novel may recover; the last line is what it leaves a reader with.
And, you know, it's not wrong. Obviously last lines only really have their full impact if you've read the rest of the story, and very often it's about the last paragraph not just the last line but still, it's not wrong. We should talk about last lines more. There was even a conversation about last lines on this very journal
a couple of days ago. So let's have those, and some more:
Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson:
When he was done he put down his tools. Behind him Orange County pulsed green and amber, jumping with his heart, glossy, intense, vibrant, awake, alive. His world and the wind pouring through it. His hands came together and made their half swing. If only Hank hadn't caught that last one. If only Ramona, if only Tom, if only all the world, all in him at once, with the sharp stab of our unavoidable grief; and it seemed to him then that he was without a doubt the unhappiest person in the whole world.
And at that thought (thinking about it) he began to laugh.
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi:
It is that which at this instant, issuing out of a labyrinthine tangle of yeses and nos, makes my hand run along a certain path on the paper, mark it with these volutes that are signs: a double snap, up and down, between two levels of energy, guides this hand of mine to impress on the paper this dot, here, this one.
'The Girl Detective' by Kelly Link:
She came down and stood under the tree. She looked a lot like my mother. Get down out of the tree this instant! she said. Don't you know it's time for dinner?
'Hell is the Absence of God' by Ted Chiang:
And though it's been many years that he has been in Hell, beyond the awareness of God, he loves Him still. That is the measure of true devotion.
Voyage by Stephen Baxter:
By God, she thought, we're here. We came for all the wrong reasons, and by all the wrong methods, but we're here, and that's all that matters. And we've found soil, and sunlight, and air, and water.
She said: "I'm home."
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell:
One hollow, hateful little man. One last awful thought: all the harm he ever did was done for him by others.
Many, many more here
. But what are your favourites? (And I don't just want 'The Nine Billion Names of God' and Lord of the Rings
; be creative!)