Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Zora Neale Hurston”

Openers and Closers (and a bit in between)

As I was site flicking the other night I came upon Style (UK version) and their collection of “100 best” concerning books.  Couldn’t resist browsing and came back with a shopping bag full of great book lines.  Here are the picks of best openers, middlers, and closers from books (well, in my opinion, of course):

Awesome Openers:

“Call me Ishmael.” Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

“This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
The Princess Bride, William Goldman


It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Middle Memorables

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Your hair wants cutting.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“I could get you strung up in a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.”
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

“Fool: Cry you mercy, I took you for a join-stool” King Lear by William Shakespeare

Catchy Closers:

“He loved Big Brother.” 1984 George Orwell

“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” A  Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this.” Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

“‘From the Land of Oz,’ said Dorothy gravely. ‘And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I’m so glad to be at home again!'” The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

“He was soon borne away 
by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

“And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.” Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

What are you favorite lines?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Zora Neale Hurston, American author. Deutsch: ...

Zora Neale Hurston, American author. Deutsch: Zora Neale Hurston Español: Zora Neale Hurston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Tina Turner belts out a great 80’s tune about love and relationships and her personal point-of-view on the whole age-old matter of that interpersonal sparking that goes on between man and woman.  That tune kept running through my mind as I read Zora Neale Hurston‘s Their Eyes Were Watching God.  I think Janie and Tina would have been soul sisters or at least would have gone out for a girl chat at the local Starbucks.

TEWWG is not a title I would have picked up on my own.  I’m not a fan of dialect-heavy text, hence I don’t do a lot of Mark Twain either.  Simply tell me the person is Irish, Swedish, Southern, or illiterate Northern and I get the idea.  All the enhanced ‘taint so, hissa, and blimeys wear on my inner ear after awhile. Since Hurston’s book is on my list of AP Literature texts we will explore in class next year  I have plucked away at Janie’s vernacular and have come away an enriched reader. Why? Hurston’s writing style is mesmerizing.  I also came away with another plucky female protagonist to add to my list.  Janie is a survivor, and an admirable individual with or without a man in her life.  She’s got chutzpah. Janie is one of literature’s greatest philosopher’s concerning love:

“Love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore” (20.7).

We as readers witness how Janie experiences love in three different forms: an unwilling, immature teenager who’s ignited imaginings of love are reduced to serving as a farm hand; a trophy wife whose own needs become buried as her social position rises; and finally as the woman fulfilled in a marriage of choice.

Written in 1937 (literary wagging tongues say Hurston did so in seven weeks), Hurston’s novel covers many issues reflective of the times.  If we can set those aside and concentrate on Janie, I would comment on how Janie set a standard worth noting: marry for love, even if it cross grains tradition and common sense.

What does love have to do with marriage?  Everything, according to Janie.  Tina gave us her opinion about it in the eighties, but Janie had it hands-down in thirties. Let the love meet you on the shore of life.

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wikipedia image

P.S. Halle Berry presents an admirable Janie in the movie version of the book.  While the movie condenses the book greatly, Janie’s character is captured well by the beauteous Berry.


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