186,000 Endings Per Second

When you close your eyes that last time, your life may flash past you in an instant, every remembered second opening and closing like a slow clasp of hands, a lightspeed rush of the flash moments of a gone life.
While we are on the subject, some endings are just more famous than others. Put on your thinking caps to guess these moments when we rest our weary arms at last and bid farewell to the greatest bookends:
1. “And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.”
2. “…you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
3. “Then there are more and more endings: the sixth, the 53rd, the 131st, the 9,435th ending, endings going faster and faster, more and more endings, faster and faster until this book is having 186,000 endings per second.”
4. “The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”
5. “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One.”
6. “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.”
7. “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
8. “I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”
9. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
10. “He was the only person caught in the collapse, and afterward, most of his work was recovered too, and it is still spoken of, when it is noted, with high regard, though seldom played.”
11. “The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.”
12. “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”
13. “Oh, Jake,” Bret said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
“Yes,” I said,. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
14. “She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”
15. “In the world according to her father, Jenny Garp knew, we must have energy. Her famous grandmother, Jenny Fields, once thought of us as Externals, Vital Organs, Absentees, and Goners. But in the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”
16. “A way a lone a last a loved a long the”
17. “His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
18. “…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
19. “So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
20. “Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Buendía would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”
21. “I am haunted by waters.”
22. “And then I woke up.”
23. “It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.”
24. “It was a fine cry – loud and long – but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.”
25. “I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”
26. “He loved Big Brother”.
27. “They were only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.”
28. “Now everybody -”
29. “Oedipa settled back, to await the crying of lot 49.”
30. “You take a really sleepy man, Esme, and he always stands a chance of becoming a man with his fac — with all his
f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact.”
31. “He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”
32. “L–d! said my mother, what is all this story about? – A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick – And one of the best of its kind I ever heard.”
33. “His hands lift of their own and he feels the wind on his ears even before, his heels hitting heavily on the pavement at first but with an effortless gathering out of a kind of sweet panic growing lighter and quicker and quieter, he runs. Ah: runs. Runs.”
34. “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
34. “If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.”
35. “One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo tee weet?”
There are some hints in the text.
Answers in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “186,000 Endings Per Second”

  1. Without using Google (cheating), the ones I could identify:
    4- Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
    5- A Christmas Carole – Charles Dickens
    15 – World According to Garp – John Irving
    18 – Ulysses – James Joynce
    20 – Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    25 – Lolita – Nabokov
    26 – 1984 – George Orwell
    28 – Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
    29 – Crying of Lot 49 – Pynchon
    34 – Candide – Voltaire

  2. These classics are for all to enjoy, as are the classics from other civilizations, e.g. Tale of Genji, etc.
    22 – I think it is a short story about a soldier in the Civil War who was about to be executed…can’t remember the title. The other readers should know.
    32 – Hamlet? Am not sure.
    2 – my guess is Samuel Beckett. Can’t recall the book.

    1. “22 – I think it is a short story about a soldier in the Civil War who was about to be executed…can’t remember the title. The other readers should know.”
      Are you talking about An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce?

  3. “20. … because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”
    Come on Robert. You have to leave the title of the book out of the final quote or it’s just too easy.

  4. See if you can get these: (Parts that giveaway the story too easily have been edited)
    1 – “________!” cried Kolya, “can it really be be true as religion says, that we shall all rise from the dead, and come to life, and see one another again, and everyone, and Illushechka?”
    “Certainly we shall rise, certainly we shall see and gladly, joyfully tell one another all that has been.” Alyosha replied, half laughing, half in ecstasy.
    “Ah, how good that will be!” burst from Kolya.
    “Well, and now let’s end our speeches and go to his memorial dinner. Don’t be disturbed that we’ll be eating pancakes. It’s an ancient, eternal thing, and there’s good in that, too.” laughed Alyosha. “Well, let’s go! And we go like this now, hand in hand.”
    “And eternally so, all our lives hand in hand! Hurrah for _________!” Kolya cried once more ecstatically, and once more all the boys joined in his exclamation.
    2 – “And did you know that the Day of Algiers has a bump right under his nose?”
    (note: this is a short story, not a novel)
    3 – “No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”
    (note: this is a short story)
    4 – I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick – on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make and end of my labor. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!”
    (note: this is a short story too)

  5. I got most of the same ones as everyone else. Did better on the beginnings, which I suppose shows I’ve started a lot more classics than I’ve finished.

  6. 1. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
    2. Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable
    3. Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General in Big Sur
    4. Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness
    5. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Story
    6. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
    7. George Eliot, Middlemarch
    8. Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
    9. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
    10. William Gaddis, The Recognitions
    11. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
    12. Ernest Hemmingway, A Farewell to Arms
    13. Ernest Hemmingway, The Sun Also Rises
    14. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
    15. John Irving, The World According to Garp
    16. James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake
    17. James Joyce, The Dead
    18. James Joyce, Ulysses
    19. Jack Kerouac, On the Road
    20. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
    21. Norman MacLean, A River Runs Through It
    22. Corman McCarthy, The Road
    23. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
    24. Toni Morrison, Sula
    25. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
    26. George Orwell, 1984
    27. Marcel Proust, Swan’s Way
    28. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
    29. Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
    30. J.D. Salinger, For Esme, with Love and Squalor
    31. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
    32. Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
    33. John Updike, Run, Rabbit
    34. Voltaire, Candide
    35. Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
    36. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

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