March Question of the Month: What is your favorite line or sentence from a book, poem or short story?
“And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day.” (Francie Nolan looking at the East River from the great window twenty stories above)
The reason? Because I’ve had to leave behind my life twice, at 16, when I left Manhattan, New York, and again at twenty, when I left Havana, Cuba to come to Miami, Florida. And I’ve experienced the feeling of loss and regret for not having held it dearer and realized it more precious while I had it.
“April is the cruelest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.”
The sentence: “We were young and drunk and twenty, and we could never die.”
I was young, nearly twenty, and drunk on the pure joy of being alive when I first read Look Homeward, Angel. My college roommate and I were reading it together, stopping often to share a particularly good passage. I read the sentence above, and it simply summed up everything I was feeling. I re-read this book often, enjoying the wonderful word pictures of a life very different from mine and delighting in the angel imagery throughout the book.
Title – “Lonely”
Author – Adrienne Rich
Favorite line from a poem – it’s the last stanza:
“If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning”
Why I like it – It’s a beautiful description of solitude — a ways of saying that solitude doesn’t exactly equal loneliness.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn. When I read this in 1976 I felt I’d never leave due to the deep tug the borough had on me. This sentence gave Brooklyn and me, dignity.
“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”
How can you NOT want to read on? This is, hands down, one of the most compelling opening sentences I’ve ever read.
My favorite line would have to come from “It was a dream” by Lucille Clifton. If I had to pick a line, it would be:
It was dream
in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
This poem has spoken to me at so many points in my life…I guess because it always makes me think about what I am doing with this remarkable gift of life that I have been given and about the choices I have and am making.
“If it hurts, he said, “pinch me. So we’re in it together.”
Chris and Emily are two teens in love. They and their parents have been best friends since they were born. He is about to make love with Emily. It is her first time but not his (another part of the story). He says this to her, because she is scared it will hurt.
In the context of the story, I thought this was such an endearing line. I have loved Jodi Picoult ever since 2000 when I first read this book.