Thursday, December 26, 2013

Magic: An Analysis of My Favorite Novel Quotes (Part 1)

On the wall to the right of my desk there are seven sticky notes, each holding one of my favorite novel quotes.  Today, I will analyze the only quote of the MG age group, which also happens to be the only quote of the literary genre.

"'Hattie,' he says at last, looking thoughtful, 'I believe you are one of the people who can lift the corners of our universe.'" - Adam in A Corner of the Universe

I reviewed A Corner of the Universe back in January.  This quote really struck me while reading the book for the second time.  For one, it inspired the book's title, and I really like witty titles.  This piece of dialogue, at its surface, means almost nothing at all.  "Lift the corners of our universe"?  What's that supposed to mean?

If you haven't read the book, you almost can't possibly understand.  Only through reading the book to that point can you get a true understanding of Adam, the speaker.  To Adam, his words meant something.  To Adam, they meant a heck of a lot.  After seeing Adam's arc in its entirety, this quote is even more magical.  It's simple, yet utterly complex.

The book goes right ahead to state that Adam was "looking thoughtful" as he said it, which may seem like a "tell" that should be fleshed out more.  It isn't.  Anything more and the line would have lost its luster.

The syntax here is beautiful.  "Hattie" the quote begins.  Adam addresses the person he's speaking to.  You know what follows must be serious.  Then comes the tag.  It implies a lot in six words.  Adam stands there for a while, thinking, searching for the words for what he wants to say.  But there aren't words.  At least not words that make any "real sense."  Yet they mean exactly what he wants them to.  Hattie is special.  Hattie "can lift the corners of our universe."  Hattie can defy the laws of the world as we know it.

What makes it even more wonderful is that Hattie is Adam's niece, although they're only about ten years apart in age, so far as I can remember.  This isn't some empty, pseudo-romantic quote that means nothing.  It's a magical quote between two people bonded first with blood, second with utter admiration, that means everything.  It's magic, transformed into words, drawn in ink, forged on paper.

I aspire to find this sort of magic, magic that only a writer can find, magic that takes cunning and expertise by the ton, where plot, setting, and character collide in a proving display of the power of words.


  1. Quite nice to come across this celebration of a single line, an analysis that looks at intent and impact. You may well have that magic as well. And another book goes on my "to read" pile.

    1. I hope I can find that magic as much as possible in my writing career. It really is a good book. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Hi there, wonderful blog. I too love this celebration of one line. All through life people often forget the importance of the smallest things. And I have come across moments/lines like this before but so rarely, so I might have to give this a read :).

    1. Thanks. While I'm not as keen on every individual line having to be awesome like some literary writers, I do really appreciate the occasional magical line. It's a great, fast read.