Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Get to the point!

For lack of a better post option, I was going to make up a top-ten list of my favorite lines in a book. However, as I perused my collection I realized that many of my favorite lines are connected to longer scenes and chapters that are really too long for a list of any kind. So, instead, here are two favorite scenes from Anne of Green Gables and Catching Fire, respectively.

"Were those women--Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond--good to you?" asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.
"O-o-o-h," faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. "Oh, they meant to be--I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don't mind very much when they're not quite--always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It's very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don't you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me."
Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had--a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne's history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of real home.

I've always loved this passage because it gets to the heart of the story. Here is Anne, the homely orphan girl who has all the potential in the world, but has never had a family and a home in which to raise her properly. What will happen to her when her opportunity comes? She survived abuse, but how will she handle prosperity? Will she become a snob? Will she pour strychnine in the well? But this is what a good book does, it gets to the point. Another great example is in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

"Why aren't you eating?" asks Octavia.
"I have been, but I can't hold another bite," I say. They all laugh as if that's the silliest thing they've ever heard.
"No one lets that stop them!" says Flavius. They lead us over to a table that holds tiny stemmed wineglasses filled with clear liquid. "Drink this!"
Peeta picks one up to take a sip and they lose it.
"Not here!" shrieks Octavia.
"You have to do it in there," says Venia, pointing to doors that lead to the toilets. "Or you'll get it all over the floor!"
Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together. "You mean this will make me puke?"
My prep team laughs hysterically. "Of course, so you can keep eating," says Octavia. "I've been in there twice already. Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?"
I'm speechless, staring at the pretty little glasses and all they imply. Peeta sets his back on the table with such precision you'd think it might detonate. "Come on, Katniss, let's dance."
Music filters down from the clouds as he leads me away from the team, the table, and out onto the floor. We k now only a few dances at home, the kind that go with fiddle and flute music and require a good deal of space. But Effie has shown us some that are popular in the Capitol. The music's slow and dreamlike, so Peeta pulls me into his arms and we move in a circle with practically no steps at all. You could do this dance on a pie plate. We're quiet for a while. Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.
"You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they're not so bad, and then you--" He cuts himself off.
All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can't give. More food. Now that we're rich, she'll send some home with them. But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway. And here in the Capitol they're vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again. Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food. It's what everyone does at a party. Expected. Part of the fun.

I love a book that can get right down to it! So tell me some of your favorites and why. It's this kind of discussion that reminds me of why I love to write and why I love great literature!

The third, and I think, final book in the Hunger Games series is called Mockingjay. It's release date is August 24th, 2010. I can't wait!


  1. I am SOO excited for the final Hunger Games . . . wohoo!!!

  2. In Sanderson's "Warbreaker", any of the conversations between Vasher and Nightblood (his talking sword) are entertaining. Nightblood is enchanted and talks like a ten year-old serial killer.

    From the same book, the Returned God named Lightsong is extremely witty and sarcastic. I loved his frequent jabs at his own religion--he's a crackup

    Also there are a couple of really great scenes in Louis L'Amour's "Last of the Breed." The Soviets (takes place in 1980s) capture an American fighter pilot who was raised Souix. They try to get him pissed off at America so he'll help them steal American tech. Their plan fails; instead, Mack (the Souix pilot) tells them to pretty much stuff it, they can't make him cooperate, and oh, by the way, he's escaping from their middle-of-nowhere Siberian compound, and they can't stop him.

    Later when another character doubts his plans to return to America, she says "That won't be very easy." To which he replies, "I didn't say it would be easy. I said I would do it."


  3. One of my favorite passages, and my all-time favorite author reading, comes from "I Am Not A Serial Killer:"

    "The thing about boxes,' I said, "Is that you can open them up. Even though they are completely boring on the outside, there might be something interesting inside. So while you're saying all these stupid, boring things, I'm imagining what it would be like to cut you open and see what you've got in there."

    I paused, staring at him, and he stared back. He was scared. I let him hang on to that fear for a moment longer, then spoke again.

    "The thing is, Rob, I don't want to cut you open. That's not who I want to be. So I made a rule for myself: anytime I want to cut someone open I say something nice to them instead. That is why I say, Rob Anders of 232 Carnation Street, that you are a great guy."

  4. Love love love them all. If I had more time I'd add a passage, but I don't so I won't.