Monday, September 22, 2008

Favorite Closing Lines

It was a social weekend -- Purdom's Rangers on Saturday and tea on Sunday at Greg and Barbara Frost' s house, along with Jason Van Hollander and his wife Terry.    But despite the above photo, of myself and the Dean of Philadelphia Science Fiction, the great Tom Purdom himself, I'm not going to blog about any of that.

I just got a tattered ex-library copy of Mervyn Wall's The Return of Fursey in the mail this morning, and it ends with one of the best final sentences for a comic novel I've ever encountered.  After the sort of hugger-mugger that makes a man glad he lives in our gentle and welcoming world rather than in fiction, Wall pulled the metaphoric camera way, way back for a long shot over the centuries:

"Last spring I walked the road from Clonmacnoise to Cashel, and then from Cashel to The Gap.  Fursey and the others are still there, trampled into the earth of road and field these thousand years."

Man, isn't that lovely?  Doesn't it just break your heart? 

I can't think of a better ending for a comic novel.  But I'm willing to entertain the possibility.  Can anybody here one-up Wall?

And as always . . .

. . . I've updated Poem du Jour.   Billy Collins Rides Again!



HANNAH'S DAD said...

A favourite? I'm not sure, but I've just - as in less than an hour ago - finished a long slow journey through the three thousand odd pages of Anthony Powell's _A Dance to the Music of Time_.

It's intermittently Wodehousean, though vastly more melancholic and discursive. It ends first with a page long quote from The Anatomy of Melancholy (...rumours of war, plagues, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, Ruthenians, laboratory inspectors...) and then finishes with:

"Even the formal measure of the Seasons seemed suspended in the wintry silence."

Quite so.

Michael Swanwick said...

That's quite lovely. As well as being melancholic as hell.

Pat J said...

One of my all-time favourite endings comes from Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty. It ends up with a bunch of Hollywood types in a room, trying to come up with the ending to the movie that Chili Palmer, onetime loan shark, has been writing. After a while, Chili gets up and walks out, annoyed. The book's last line:

Fuckin' endings, mand, they were harder than they looked.

Pat J said...

And I see I've misspelled "man" in the last line. Whups.