Best Sentences / Lines In Literature Thread?

CosmoCosmo 9,767 Posts
edited March 2014 in Strut Central
Hi y'all, hope that everyone is well! It's been a hot minute but I am still alive and kicking

Anyway, I was reading this piece on NPR this morning about the Ten Best Sentences In Literature (below) and I was reminded of a similar thread from back in the day where people posted up their favorite sentences or passages from literature. I think Gareth was the creator of the thread (Kitchen Knight??) and other than that I have no idea how to search for it... But it was a great thread and definitely bump-worthy if anyone can find it.

Okey dokey!!


http://www.npr.org/2014/03/26/294823375/it-was-the-best-of-sentences

  Comments


  • CosmoCosmo 9,767 Posts
    Also wow...

    "Down Since Nov 04, 2003"

    I've been on The Strut for over a decade now!


  • DB_CooperDB_Cooper Manhatin' 7,823 Posts
    ÔÇ£So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.ÔÇØ - The Great Gatsby

    "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." - Macbeth

    "I looked and beheld a pale horse, and the name of the rider of that horse was Death, and all hell came with him." - Revelations

  • ReynaldoReynaldo 6,054 Posts
    Diddy's rant on Rick Ross' "Nobody."

  • He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    Reynaldo said:
    Diddy's rant on Rick Ross' "Nobody."

    If we're talking rants in songs, than Oran "Juice" Jones' rant at the end of "The Rain."


    But on the real:

    "As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world."
    --The Stranger

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Upon review, most of what my brain has filed as "great lines" are actually, when confronted on the page, multiple sentences long. Either that, or they don't really say anything when removed from their context. Good, honest-to-goodness stand-alone single lines are, I guess, scarcer than I've remembered.

    But anyway, off the head:

    - ÔÇ£For every family, every group, there is a myth of continued collective ascent that at some point stops being plausible.ÔÇØ -- Geoffrey OÔÇÖBrien, Sonata For Jukebox

    - ÔÇ£It sounded funny at first, but I got used to it very fast, and then I liked it more than anything IÔÇÖd ever heard.ÔÇØ -- Daniel Manus Pinkwater, Lizard Music

    - ÔÇ£Who know but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?ÔÇØ -- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

    - ÔÇ£The beats of her heart lessened one by one, vaguer each time and softer, as a fountain sinks, an echo disappears; and when she sighed her last breath she thought she saw an opening in the heavens, and a gigantic parrot hovering above her head.ÔÇØ -- Gustave Flaubert, ÔÇ£A Simple HeartÔÇØ

    - ÔÇ£And I told him all that and then I knew I couldnÔÇÖt tell him the rest and that I couldnÔÇÖt marry a man I couldnÔÇÖt tell this story to.ÔÇØ -- Amy Bloom, ÔÇ£Love Is Not A PieÔÇØ

    - ÔÇ£A spadeful of diamonds for whoever brings me back the dog that I once was!ÔÇØ

    b/w

    - ÔÇ£Inside this hat there is a portrait of me with my feet in the air (it is a hatÔÇÖs eye view).ÔÇØ -- Paul Eluard, The Immaculate Conception

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,272 Posts


    There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the cross-wise interblending of other threads with it's own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads.

    Herman Melville, Moby Dick

  • "The worldÔÇÖs showing signs of waking up from its linear trance, its dangerously restrictive sense of itself as a historic vehicle chuffing down a one-way street toward some preordained apocalyptic goal."

    "From the peeling wastes east of Al-Zarqa, there cam a faint but persistant cry, a cray to dam the flood tides of semen, to leash the sperm packs running wild in the sheets, to zonk the zygotic zillions and mitigate the multitudinous milt, to garrote the gullible glorification of gamete, forsake the foolish fidelity to fecundity, and wrest free from a woman's shoulders the boa of spermatozoa that the Church had draped there like a weighty shawl and that pulled her ever downward into sickness and servitude, while at her skirts her too-many children went hungry, went bad, or just went."

    "ÔÇ£And then the rains came. They came down from the hills and up from the sound. And it rained a sickness. And it rained a fear. And it rained an odor. And it rained a murder. And it rained dangers and pale eggs of the beast. Rain poured for days, unceasing. Flooding occurred. The wells filled with reptiles. The basements filled with fossils. Mossy-haired lunatics roamed the dripping peninsulas. Moisture gleamed on the beak of the raven. Ancient Shaman's rained from their homes in dead tree trunks, clacked their clamshell teeth in the drowned doorways of forests. Rain hissed on the freeway. It hissed at the prows of fishing boats. It ate the old warpaths, spilled the huckleberries, ran into the ditches. Soaking. Spreading. Penetrating. And it rained an omen. And it rained a poison. And it rained a pigment. And it rained a seizure.ÔÇØ

    "ÔÇ£To wit: actions, like sounds, divide the flow of time into beats.[...]The quality of a man's life depends on the rhyhmic structure he is able to impose upon the input and output of energy.ÔÇØ

    -Tom Robbins

  • DORDOR Two Ron Toe 9,799 Posts
    This line made an impact on me as a kid in school.

    ÔÇ£Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification.ÔÇØ - Farley Mowat

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    Yes. I half heard that story this on NPR this morning. I kept waiting for them to mention Raymond Chandler and Dashell Hammett. When they didn't I figured they didn't know what they were talking about.

    This is the Tom Robbins sentence I remember 35 years later: "October lies on the Skagit like a wet rag on a salad."

  • If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.

    Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

    That line hit me where I lived the first time I read it. I wish KV had stuck around a little longer.

  • Shit, I did start that thread! All to post this paragraph from the end of Suttree by Cormac McCarthy. Still kills:

    "He lifted a hand and turned and went on. He had divested himself of the little cloaked godlet and his other amulets in a place where they would not be found in his lifetime and he'd taken for talisman the simple human heart within him. Walking down the little street for the last time he felt everything fall away from him. Until there was nothing left for him to shed. It was all gone. No trail, no track. The spoor petered out down there on Front Street where things he'd been lay like paper shadows, a few here, they thin out. After that nothing. A few rumors. Idle word on the wind. Old news years in traveling that you could not put stock in."


    Damn.

    Others... From Moby Dick:

    Consider all this; and then turn to this green gentle and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life.


    This description of being fucked up from Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson has always stuck with me, and comes back in a hungover moment.

    ÔÇ£The traveling salesmen fed me pills that made the lining of my veins feel scraped out, my jaw ached... I knew every raindrop by its name, I sensed everything before it happened. Like I knew a certain oldsmobile would stop even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside, I knew we'd have an accident in the rain. I didn't care. They said they'd take me all the way.ÔÇØ


    It's big, but there are passages of Infinite Jest that just floor me, including these two (both Don Gately related... The latter is the end of the book):

    ...the ADA was coldly biding his time, being a patient Get-Even and Cold-Dish man just like Don Gately, who was, through no will to energy-consuming violence on his part, in the sort of a hell of a deep-shit mess that can turn a man's life right around.

    ...

    And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out.

    The last paragraph of "I Married a Communist," by Philip Roth is too long to type, but is just mind blowingly gorgeous, so I'll just leave you with the last line... The stars are indispensable.

  • twoplytwoply 2,903 Posts
    james said:

    - ÔÇ£It sounded funny at first, but I got used to it very fast, and then I liked it more than anything IÔÇÖd ever heard.ÔÇØ -- Daniel Manus Pinkwater, Lizard Music

    I don't have the book anymore, but there's a great Pinkwater line in Chicago Days, Hoboken Nights where he describes his revelation that all of the bumming around, daydreaming, and just taking the world in that people criticized him for was in actuality just a form of gestation. That felt nice to read.

  • JATXJATX 258 Posts
    Let's sway from the literary stuff for a minute:

    "Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns." George V. Higgin-"The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

    I've always loved that opening line. So simple and to-the-point, yet right away it tells you exactly what you're getting into.

  • GaryGary 3,982 Posts
    I don't read much fiction. Mostly science books these days. I underline anything that I think is interesting. There is a book called "the beginning of infinity" by david Deutsch that is incredible. It's a real mind bender. But in there was this line that makes me laugh:

    "Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow."

    Out of context maybe it's not that funny. That book is highly recommended for smart people.

  • yuichiyuichi Urban sprawl 11,318 Posts
    It's only in my early 30s now, that I've come to fully appreciate John Steinbeck....slightly cynical but on point.....

    "Again it might have been the American tendency in travel. One goes not so much to see as to tell afterwards." from Travels with Charley.

  • JATX said:
    Let's sway from the literary stuff for a minute:

    "Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns." George V. Higgin-"The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

    I've always loved that opening line. So simple and to-the-point, yet right away it tells you exactly what you're getting into.

    That book is phenomenal, and so well written. Shit, that book is literature, no high/low about it.

  • p_gunnp_gunn 2,284 Posts
    ÔÇ£The biggest defeat in every department of life is to forget, especially the things that have done you in, and to die without realizing how far people can go in the way of crumminess. When the grave lies open before us, letÔÇÖs not try to be witty, but on the other hand, letÔÇÖs not forget, but make it our business to record the worst of the human viciousness weÔÇÖve seen without changing one word. When thatÔÇÖs done, we can curl up our toes and sink into the pit. ThatÔÇÖs work enough for a lifetime. ÔÇØ

    Celine, Journey To The End Of The Night

  • gareth said:
    JATX said:
    Let's sway from the literary stuff for a minute:

    "Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns." George V. Higgin-"The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

    I've always loved that opening line. So simple and to-the-point, yet right away it tells you exactly what you're getting into.

    That book is phenomenal, and so well written. Shit, that book is literature, no high/low about it.

    Absolutely. I've got an Ivy English degree and crime fiction is all over my shelves.

  • JATXJATX 258 Posts
    LazarusOblong said:
    gareth said:
    JATX said:
    Let's sway from the literary stuff for a minute:

    "Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns." George V. Higgin-"The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

    I've always loved that opening line. So simple and to-the-point, yet right away it tells you exactly what you're getting into.

    That book is phenomenal, and so well written. Shit, that book is literature, no high/low about it.

    Absolutely. I've got an Ivy English degree and crime fiction is all over my shelves.

    I too am a lit major. Good to know I'm not alone in my tastes. Assuming you read Elmore Leonard, can you recommend anybody who writes characterizations that come close to his? (I know he's the king,but maybe a runner-up or two I've yet to discover.)

  • ElectrodeElectrode Los Angeles 2,674 Posts
    "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."
    - Bertolt Brecht's 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui'

    OK, it's from one of his plays and the finale to Peckinpah's WW2 flick from '77, "Iron Cross", brought me there, but I read it from a book.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    Electrode said:
    "For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."
    - Bertolt Brecht's 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui'

    Damn that's good.
    I wonder if he wrote it in German or English.

  • FrankFrank 2,360 Posts
    ÔÇ£I can normally tell how intelligent a man is by how stupid he thinks I am.ÔÇØ

    Cormac MacCarthy
    All the Pretty Horses



    ÔÇ£Look, girls don't care how many push-ups you can do. They just want to get high and wear flowers in their hair. Maybe steal a car.ÔÇØ

    Donald Ray Pollock
    Knockemstiff



    MacCarthy's Border Trilogy (together with Blood Meridian) and Pollock's the Devil All the Time (even better than Knockemstiff but they're both two parts of the same book anyways) were the best books I got to read in recent memory.

  • JATX said:
    LazarusOblong said:
    gareth said:
    JATX said:
    Let's sway from the literary stuff for a minute:

    "Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns." George V. Higgin-"The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

    I've always loved that opening line. So simple and to-the-point, yet right away it tells you exactly what you're getting into.

    That book is phenomenal, and so well written. Shit, that book is literature, no high/low about it.

    Absolutely. I've got an Ivy English degree and crime fiction is all over my shelves.

    I too am a lit major. Good to know I'm not alone in my tastes. Assuming you read Elmore Leonard, can you recommend anybody who writes characterizations that come close to his? (I know he's the king,but maybe a runner-up or two I've yet to discover.)

    Give Ken Bruen and Charles Willeford a shot. And absolutely Derek Raymond's "Factory" series.

  • JATXJATX 258 Posts
    Thanks for the recommendations. I look forward to checking them out.

  • GrandfatherGrandfather 2,302 Posts
    "That book is highly recommended for smart people." - Gary

    Already my favorite.

  • FrankFrank 2,360 Posts
    LazarusOblong said:


    Give Ken Bruen and Charles Willeford a shot. And absolutely Derek Raymond's "Factory" series.

    I'm a huge fan of Charles Willeford and Derek Raymond so I just went ahead and ordered two Ken Bruen novels...

  • LoopDreamsLoopDreams 1,193 Posts
    "And indeed there will be time
    For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
    Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
    There will be time, there will be time
    To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
    There will be time to murder and create,
    And time for all the works and days of hands
    That lift and drop a question on your plate;"

    T. S. Eliot
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