Thanks to the twinned miracles of my credit card and the international postage system, I took possession of this fine piece of work yesterday:
For those not in the know, it’s an exploration of the writing process by the delightfully brilliant author Jeff VanderMeer, whose work on the writing life, Booklife, is one of my most dearly-held biblical texts. This volume is overflowing with illustrations by Jeremy Zerfoss that are the kind of semi-surreal and absurdist illustrations I love, and would be worth the price of admission alone if not for the fact that VanderMeer is a wonderfully deep thinker about the authorial process and his words would be worth the price of admission alone if not for…. it’s a grand looking book. You get it.
It’s also backed up by a fantastic web page filled with extra content, which you’d know if you’d clicked the picture.
However, the purpose of this post is not to pimp VanderMeer’s work, but to have a bit of a play with my own. Because while I was aimlessly flicking through, looking at all the pretty pictures, I entertained myself by reading some of the opening and closing lines he’d collected to support his chapters on the art of creating memorable images with which to bookend your stories– readers remember the last and first things they read, we all know, so there’s an art to giving them memories that will walk away from the story with them.
Which prompted me to scroll through my own work and see just how well I’d done with that particular art throughout the years. The answer to which is
So, for your education and entertainment, here are 15 of my favourite opening and closing sentences from my work– ones that still, to me, communicate a resonant image in a single sentence– for no other reason than it took me a while to look through, and I still like them.
Make of them what you will.
Deep in the middle of the Poolshug Swampland, where even the Giant Grells tiptoe lightly for fear of drawing attention to themselves, lives Vortle alone in his little hut.– Vortle
We fell upon Moscow like hungry dogs. — The Emperor of Moscow
Jim Smith had a bald patch at the back of his head the size of a table tennis paddle. — A Star is Born
From where I lie I can see the puddle changing colour, red neon pink neon green as the lights from the bar’s sign flicker and change. — Making Two Fists
It was the second sunrise of the day.– Father Muerte & the Rain
There are very few completely true things in Costa Satanas. — Father Muerte & the Flesh
Rain batters the road, the footpath, the buildings, and the top of Mallory’s unprotected head. — Love Me Electric
I have stood on this spot since my father the Sun shat the Earth and pissed the oceans and farted the sky. — Though I Be Stone
The first thing they made Marianne do was strip naked and submit to a body search. — The Imprisonment of Marianne
So they picked him up, the broken-shelled, loose-limbed motherfucker, lying unconscious in a pool of his own piss. — , Rabbit, Run
What does it take to murder a city? — Europe After the Rain
What little world there was, belonged to the sand. — At the End, There Was a Man
The only parts of this story that exist are the man and the knife. — Truthful Remains
The storm had turned the world into a swirl of broken lines. — Disciple of the Torrent
We had been in Anguilar for seven months when the river began to attack. — The Canals of Anguilar
Then I know that Vortle is well and hunting, and that the pods of the strange creatures will not reach our beautiful Epicity just yet, and that I am still the only person who calls him friend.– Vortle
Through the window, oblivious to all that has happened, Merrilee dances. — Through the Window, Merrilee Dances
And when we were finished, all that remained were bones. — The Emperor of Moscow
Oh, how they bite. — Decimated
The real joy comes when you keep them alive. — Pater Familias
Who gave them the photos, Thierry, and what did they hope I would see? — Amygdala, My Love
I began crying when the first bombs fell. — Silk
Smiling, crying, happy, Markus bent forward and leaned beyond the mirror. — Alchymical Romance
Then it, too, faded away, and moved on to other destinations. — Doctor Who: The Time Eater
We marched out, and he led us, singing, back home through the ashes of our dead. — Europe After the Rain
The column of smoke stayed in the air for days. — At the End, There Was a Man
I will not burn alone. — The Claws of Native Ghosts
I raised a hand, held my breath, and reached out to touch the monster. — Beached
They laughed, until the only sound in the entire world was the pounding of waves in his ears. — Disciple of the Torrent
She turns away from the unloving air and walks through the crowd, out of the Centre and into the cold world. — Comfort Ghost