The art of the last line

Last lines. They can leave you wanting more or give you the closure you so deeply desire. I admit that sometimes I flip right to the end of the book to read those last few lines even before I read the first word. And sometimes, if the ending is just right, I’ll read the last lines over and over again in a desperate attempt to cling to the book.

So it’s not surprising that I love the idea of the Etsy shop End Quote Art.
Valerie Perreault has created minimalist art posters that showcase the last lines from the world’s best books. She has about 60 different posters in her shop, so check them out to see if your favourite book made the list. I like what Valerie says on her site: “These lines still evoke the flood of emotion I felt years ago when ending each wild journey pressed between its covers…”

Here are some of my favourites. I just wish I had the wall space for all of them.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath 

The Bell Jar last lines

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower last lines


For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway 

For Whom The Bell Tolls last lines


Friday Reads: Paris Without End


 I made a reading list of books written by or about the women in Hemingway’s life, and I’ve finally started reading those titles one by one. I’m most interested in Hadley (if you’ve read The Paris Wife, you understand) so I’m starting with Paris Without End. I’m also looking forward to reading Mary Welsh Hemingway’s How It Was, which I might tackle next. It would be interesting to read about his first wife followed by his last.

What are you reading?  

Writing advice from Donna Tartt

donna tartt

Yesterday it was announced that Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Goldfinch.
This did not surprise me at all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Goldfinch is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it, do it now. She is an incredible writer. In fact, I would have to agree with this New York Times article when it says that Donna Tartt is the kind of writer who makes other writers “pea green with envy.”
Ms. Tartt is also notoriously private and doesn’t give many interviews (although she might have no choice now that she won the Pulitzer). But thanks to the glory of the internet, I was able to piece together some words of wisdom from the incredible and enviable Donna Tartt.

Care about your technique. 

“To be good at anything, whether dance or painting or Olympic diving, you have to be really, really attentive to detail. And you also have to be able to forget about technique in the heat of the moment – you have to know your technique so well that it’s second nature. But you never stop trying to refine it.”

(Source: Chatelaine)

Don’t write about what you know.

“You know, the fun thing about writing a book is that it really is a different life, just as reading it is like a different life for the reader. I don’t want to write about my own life, I want to write about someone else’s, to live someone else’s life.”

(Source: Salon)

Write at your own pace.

“So many people say to me, why don’t you write books faster? And I’ve tried to, just to see if I could. But working that way doesn’t come naturally to me. I would be miserable cranking out a book every three or four years. And if I’m not having fun writing it, people aren’t going to have fun reading it.”

(Source: Telegraph)

Let writing be your escape. 

“Staying with the same characters for so long is fun, it’s fun seeing how they evolve over time, being in the same world for a long time. Once I’m there I like to stay there. It’s an alternate life, it’s wonderful. Of course it’s escapist.”

(Source: Independent)

Drink like Hemingway.
“I like a glass of whiskey in the winter, I like a gin and tonic in the summer, I like a glass of champagne anytime.”

(Source: The Guardian)

Friday Reads: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


As you can tell from the photo, my copy of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is falling apart. I bought it a little while ago at a library book sale. You can imagine how many people have read it for it to get to this point. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time, since I used to work at a bookstore and I would come across the cover time and time again. Feels good to be crossing it off my list.

What are you reading? 


Balzac & the perfect cup of coffee

As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.

- Honoré de Balzac

Balzac grave Paris


Balzac’s love of coffee is well documented. He wrote about it in his essay “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee” and pretty much everything I’ve ever read about him says that he drank up to fifty cups of coffee a day. And he drank it black. Balzac was not messing around.

Coffee was important to him and to his writing process, as it is to mine. I can honestly say that drinking my morning coffee is one of the highlights of my day. And if I miss it, I get a wicked headache as a reminder never to do that again. I once gave up caffeine for a couple of months and it was THE WORST.

I take my coffee addiction seriously, too. I buy good coffee from a local roaster, grind the beans myself and use a French Press. But recently I decided that there was still some room for my coffee obsession to grow. That’s when I discovered a workshop called The Art of Roasting Coffee at The Merchants of Green Coffee. I signed up to learn all about the process of roasting my own coffee beans at home, something that I didn’t even know you could do. Turns out, roasting your own beans was once the norm and is actually quite straightforward. Here are the three keys to great coffee (according to The Merchants of Green Coffee):

great cup of coffee
This might all seem a bit extreme but I assure you the coffee this produces is the best coffee I’ve ever had. Sure, I may have set off the fire alarm and dropped all the beans on the floor on my first try, but the next time I did it there was no fire alarm and those beans went right into a jar instead of my floor. Success!
Which brings me back to Balzac.
I like to think that we would have bonded over this new obsession of mine. In reality, Balzac’s little coffee addiction probably contributed to his death at the age of 51, but it also helped him maintain a pretty strict writing schedule. And while I don’t plan on matching his slightly extreme coffee habit, I’m starting to understand how he got there. I mean, if it makes you happy and helps your writing, why not have another cup? (Just maybe not fifty.)
So let’s all raise our mugs to Balzac, coffee, and to being addicted to caffeine and writing.

Friday Reads: Labor Day


The only thing I know about this book is that they made a movie about it that stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. And the only reason I know that is because that’s them on the cover there. But seriously, I don’t know why I decided to read this book. I started it this morning and am a few chapters in already. So far I’m really enjoying the story, which I’m imagining will take some pretty strange twists and turns.

What are you reading? 


Friday Reads: My Bread

I’m still reading the Jim Henson bio (it’s amazing) and The Secret History (not as good as I was expecting), but that didn’t stop me from picking up the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey. I’ve heard such good things about this book. Not only does the now famous no-knead bread look amazing, but this book really makes me appreciate bread baking even more than I already did.

What are you reading? 


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