We’ve had a couple of posts about first lines in novels and everyone knows, for commercial purposes, they’re extremely important.
Last lines are a different story. PG doubts a last line ever sold a book. However, a true artist wants to finish and finish well for the reader, like a concert pianist who makes certain the last note is so good no one in the audience will move until it fades away.
Since first lines have had their moment, seeking balance in an unbalanced world, Passive Guy will propose some worthy last lines in novels.
Actually, regular visitor Julia Rachel Barrett proposed the first of the excellent last lines:
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
Here are a few additional last lines Passive Guy likes:
He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees; and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear.
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
Everything we need that is not food or love is here in the tabloid racks. The tales of the supernatural and extraterrestrial. The miracle vitamins, the cures for cancer, the remedies for obesity. The cults of the famous and the dead.
Don DeLillo, White Noise
But that is the beginning of a new story — the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his transition from one world into another, of his initiation into a new, unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is over. —
Fyodor Dostoyevsk, Crime and Punishment
I never saw any of them again—except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them.
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
It’s done. This may not be my final country. I can still taste the bear in the back of my throat, bitter with the blood of the innocent, and somewhere in my old heart I can still remember the taste of love. Perhaps this is just a resting place. A warm place to drink cold beer. But wherever my final country is, my ashes will go back to Montana when I die. Maybe I’ve stopped looking for love. Maybe not. Maybe I will go to Paris. Who knows? But I’ll sure as hell never go back to Texas again.
James Crumley, The Final Country
Feel free to suggest others.