Last sentences that blow you away.

I’m talking about the last sentence – perhaps paragraph – of a novel that leaves you stunned, or in tears, totally blown away by how it completes the story, how it brings home all the threads so carefully woven together in the book.

I’ve just finished reading Connie Willis’s Lincoln’s Dreams. The last sentence –

“I have picked up a nail.”

– so simple, those six little words, yet they struck to my heart. I’m fighting back tears now, at the emotions they call forth, at how perfectly they conclude all that has come before.

What books have you read whose last words have hit you with such power?

Not quite the last words (the epilogue was still to come), but the main plot of *Fight Club * ended with Tyler, you moron. You used parafin, didn’t you?

And not quite blowing me away, but an excellent way to end a book, Ashes Of Victory by David Weber ended with “Good bye, Citizen Chairman.”

I dunno, most books I read, the sledgehammer line tends to be a short distance from the end of the book, rather than at the very end. Towards the end of the book Flight of the Intruder, one of the characters gets to be the only guy in the book to have last words: “I’d do the same for you.”, which hit a lot harder in the book than in the movie.

The last paragraph, in fact last page and a half, of Phillip Roth’s I Married A Communist I’ve always found beautiful.

Last words and chapter of Angela’s Ashes:


I cried and cried.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I love that last line. It replaced the last line of A Tale of Two Cities for me back in High School and I still don’t think it’s been topped since.

Well, maybe “The Ramans do everything in threes.”

There’s always the classic in *A Tale of Two Cities * by Charles Dickens:It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

oooh, good one!

Robert Sheckley’s The Leech is wonderfully creepy:

“Into spores. Billions of them. Waiting to be fed.”

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

–Arthur C. Clarke, The Nine Billion Names of God

“It is the beating of his hideous heart!” (Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart

“And with glazing eyes Steven Krane smiled up at the start, stars that were sprinkled evenly across the sky. Stars that had not yet formed into the familiar constellations, and would not for a hundred million centuries.” – Alfred Bester, Adam and No Eve

“And I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose as You Know Who.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

“I have no mouth and I must scream.”

“‘On the streets of Moscow one often sees vans filled with foodstuffs, very neat and hygenically impeccable. One can only conclude that the provisioning of the capital is excellent.’” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle. (If you’ve read the book, you know why this is so powerful.)

Plus the final line of Men Without Bones.

He loved Big Brother.

– George Orwell, 1984

“I am haunted by waters.”

–Norman Maclean

This would be mine. It’s just a great summation to a truly horrifying tale.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Wel I still have a mouth and I must scream over reading that whole story.

Interesting that two of the best last lines Dopes identified came from the same author.

Stephen King


from Pet Semetary.

Perfect. Took me a long time to realize what this meant. It wasn’t just his final submmition. He did that. It was his collaboration. Becoming part of the the boot not to be part of the face.When then that’s you only choice. That’s when you have nothing at all left. shudder

I love Orwell. I wish we had him now.

We do.

Oh and you could argue, trananlanticaly, if this is a last line but

“I was cured alright.”

We do. But I wish he were still writing. His sanity would come in handy about now.