Monday, September 10, 2012

Your favorite sentence from a book or article?

I'm lecturing in a class where they're learning sentence patterns, and I thought maybe it would be fun if we all contributed favorite sentences and then figured out in the construction why they're so good. Can you help me with some material? From a book or article you've enjoyed, by someone you consider a good stylist-- can you post a great sentence? Please give the author and title in case the students want to find the book!

I have to post this one because it's from a book many of us will have read, and it's so punchy and to the point yet also sort of doom-ridden.

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
Stephen King, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

So-- favorite sentences? (If you have to post two to give the context, that's fine.) Thanks! Some with more complicated construction than the above would be good, because I want them to diagram the sentences.


Maree Anderson said...

I love that sentence from The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger for the exact same reasons as you, Alicia. It's so short and concise, and yet brilliantly conveys a sense of impending disaster.

Here's one from Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady. I adored this book. It was such a sensual book, and the tension between Grey and Annique was breathtaking. Unfortunately I don't have the book with me, but I did note down some excerpts for a blog article I wrote about The Sensual Hero. So hopefully this sentence will do:

'With her eyes closed, in darkness, it was like being back in France, being blind, knowing Grey by the touch and smell of him.'

For clarity's sake, here's the full excerpt:
'"He set his chin on top of her head. “Just hold on to me for a while.”

With her eyes closed, in darkness, it was like being back in France, being blind, knowing Grey by the touch and smell of him. After a time, a clock sounded in one of the rooms along the hall. Seven strokes. His back muscles tightened under her hands, and she knew the little truce between them was over. Truces were of that nature. They ended, sooner or later.'

Edittorrent said...

Maree, I think I'll use the whole quote, but have them diagram the first one, as that's more complex. :)
Thanks! Alicia

Kathy said...

Here a couple I am thinking about while working on a post about expat life.

Far from their native land, their flavor changes ever so slightly as they absorb the new perfumes, just as the slightly toxic chemistry of Americans abroad erodes, just a little, the new place in which they find themselves.
—Diane Johnson, Le Divorce

Because souvenirs remind even the traveler of his journey: I was not always who and what I seem, sitting in this Ohio parlor. Here is a talisman of a magical time when nothing—not even I—was ordinary.
—Mary Doria Russell, Dreamers of the Day

Jane George said...

The torches still burnt as before, and the toffee wrappers still glinted, and the children oohed and grabbed and ate, and the sky was still holding its breath.

from Chime by Franny Billingsley

Jane George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This one always stayed with me.

"Evil is a point of view. God kills indiscriminately and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are, none so like him as ourselves."

Anne Rice
Interview With A Vampire


Sam B said...

Nine months Landsman's been flopping at the Hotel Zamenof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered.

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman's Union

John H said...

This is the opening line of Wool by Hugh Howey:

"The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do"

I thought that was a killer first line - it definitely made me buy the book.

JC said...

This one is responsible for my obsession with opening lines in stories:

"Quentin Fears never told his parents the last thing his sister Lizzy said to him before they pulled the plug on her and let her die."
- Orson Scott Card, Treasure Box

It's a smack in the face that leaves you with too many questions to ignore.