What Literary Line Would Be on Your Headstone?

After you’ve read Anthony Franze’s piece on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave, comment on what literary line would be on your headstone for a chance to win a copy of Anthony’s breakout novel, The Advocate's Daughter, a family thriller set in the insular Supreme Court world. #1 New York Times bestseller Lee Child called the novel “smart, sophisticated, suspenseful, and written with real insider authenticity.” Providence Journal said it’s “engaging and riveting.” And Suspense Magazine hailed it as “the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to suspense.”

My son Jake, a high school senior who soon leaves for college to pursue his love of journalism and English literature, is the most well read person I know. Having misspent my own youth, I’ve taken to reading whatever’s on Jake’s bedside table—to try in these last days while he’s under my roof to better connect with him, to see where his heart and mind are at this exciting time in his life. So, that recently led me to The Great Gatsby.

As a writer, I should probably be embarrassed that I’d never read the classic, which is core curriculum in most high schools (did I mention my misspent youth?). But I soon found myself lost in the world of Daisy Buchanan, Nick Carraway, and the denizens of West Egg. 

I won’t bore you with my literary analysis, though as I read Gatsby, I imagined what many literary agents might say about the manuscript in today’s ruthless world of publishing (“It’s not a novel, it’s only 180 pages!” “It needs more action in the beginning, you don’t even meet Jay Gatsby until 50 pages in!”). Rather, when I finished the book, Jake and I decided on an afternoon of Fitzgerald. No, not a boozy day of debauchery reminiscent of Jay Gatsby’s parties (or Fitzgerald himself)—if it were just me that might have happened.

But instead, we watched the Leonardo DiCaprio film adaptation—thumbs down from both of us—and then Googled the author. I was surprised to learn that Fitzgerald was just 29 when he published Gatsby. As a 45-year-old author, I got a little ache in my heart at that.

Then, another bombshell for someone my age: Fitzgerald died when he was 44, something that made me appreciate even more my time with the 17-year-old sitting next to me.

We also read that Fitzgerald is buried near our Washington, D.C.-area home, so we decided to go to his gravesite. Or, as Fitzgerald would have put it, “we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”

Walking a graveyard is a bit of a creepy father-son outing, I admit, but there was something peaceful about strolling the leaf-filled cemetery on a windy fall day with my oldest child. We stood silently when we came upon Fitzgerald’s grave, in part out of respect, in part from the inscription on the stone:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The last line of Gatsby, on its author’s final resting place. I thought it was fitting, given the many “lasts” I’d be doing with my son before he ventures out on his own, before he’s off on literary and other adventures without me. “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

I also thought, Man, I’m gonna miss this kid.

What literary line would be on your headstone?
 

Comment below and tell us what literary line would be on your headstone for a chance to win a copy of The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony Franze!

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Anthony Franze is the author of THE ADVOCATE’S DAUGHTER (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur, March 22, 2016), and a lawyer in the Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.

Comments

  1. Joyce Benzing

    — “Good-bye, Francie,” she whispered.
    She closed the window.

  2. ravensfan

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

  3. Barbara Bibel

    The End!

  4. vicki wurgler

    and when the earth shall clain your limbs then shall you truly dance

  5. Laurent Latulippe

    “who smelt it delt it”

  6. Patrick Murphy

    And they all lived happily ever after!!

  7. Marjorie Manharth

    Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!

  8. Kim Akers

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

  9. ellie lewis

    Stop worrying about growing old. And Think about growing up.

  10. bill norris

    He Ate, He Drank, He Slept.

  11. kittybusia

    “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

  12. Saul Pachman

    Don’t forget me. And before you go, tell someone younger not to forget me.

  13. pearl berger

    Ifyou ook for perfection you’ll never be content.

  14. Sharron Walker

    “To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come”

  15. Cheryl English

    YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE
    BUT IF YOU DO IT RIGHT
    ONCE IS ENOUGH

  16. Debra Schron

    “And now you don’t have to be perfect,you can be good.”

  17. Sally Kohlenberg

    Life is what happens while you’re making other plans

  18. Laurence Coven

    Well, I think my tombstone might say “Did the Cubs win today?” but as for a literary line, I always admired Oscar Wilde’s last words: “This wallpaper is hideous! One of us has to go!”

  19. Laurence Coven

    Also, “I don’t want to live on forever through my work. I want to live on forever in my apartment.”–Woody Allen

  20. L

    “Live! Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

  21. DebP

    It was a dark and stormy night

  22. Karl Stenger

    Das Ende.

  23. Deb Philippon

    Darn, sign in didn’t take.
    Again,

    It was a dark and stormy night

  24. KATHLEEN McDANIEL

    TO SLEEP. PERCHANCE TO DREAM

  25. vickie dailey

    really great that your 17 year old son would find this a great way to spend the day – also did you watch the Robert Redford version it was much better than the newer one – I for one cannot decide what I would like for my epithat – may not need one as I am going to be cremated

  26. Lori P

    “What hath night to do with sleep?”
    – John Milton, Paradise Lost

  27. susan beamon

    ” And in I go, where the dogs lie flat on the kitchen floor, tails wagging, and the kettle is whistling, and the house is very warm.” H is for Hawk. Helen Macdonald.
    I see several first lines, but not so many last lines. It may be, that as the final words pass our eyes, we do not take them in but let them, with the book, vanish into our memories.

  28. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    “Prepare your mind for contact.” Yes!

  29. Daniel M

    I drank what?

  30. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  31. Alexander Stephens

    he lived and died free….

  32. kent w. smith

    Is that all there is?

  33. Doris Calvert

    Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

  34. Michael Papagermanos

    “Too weird to live, too rare to die!”

    Hunter S. Thompson

  35. Shelley Scaramuzzo

    My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today. That line from Watership Down gets me right in the feels every time.

  36. Tracy Shepherd

    What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. My epithet? “This was murder, please investigate” or “the games afoot”. Decisions, decisions.

  37. Sherry Schwabacher

    “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” ? [url=https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19968.John_Lennon]John Lennon[/url]

  38. Nancy Shepherd

    The end.

  39. Kim Johnston

    “Always” from Harry Potter with my husband.

  40. charles j hauser jr

    I have read the Great Gatsby at least 6 times falling in love with its flawed characters in my junior year of high school. As to its final words I still do not grasp the meaning of them. Is it a pessimistic statement about life, an affirmative song stating that no matter what life survives and is inextinguishable, or is it in the end a series of quiet frustrations meaning nothing. I can not figure it out. As for my tombstone I would have written “Too in love with the night to be afraid of the dark.”

  41. Charles Dexter Ward

    Cartoonist Fontaine Fox had a good line on his headstone: “I had a feeling something like this was going to happen.”

  42. elsie321

    a good life lived and loved

  43. Sharon Haas

    The friends we have lost do not repose under the ground…they are buried deep in our hearts. The Count of Monte Cristo

  44. Leesa Johnson

    What a long, strange trip it’s been.

  45. Vicky Boackle

    Luckiest girl ever.

  46. Sandy Klocinski

    Find what you love and let it kill you

  47. Joyce Lokitus

    “Called Back”
    by Emily Dickinson

  48. JULES M.

    ‘Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet,Doubt not, Reepicheep,To find all you seek, There is the utter East”

  49. Mike Rogers

    Looks great!

  50. Janice Milliken

    Haven’t thought that far ahead yet! It should be something funny to make people laugh…I’ll check back in when I think of something clever.

  51. Susan Smoaks

    injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

  52. HESTER MAYO

    Misunderstood….

  53. Mary Ann Brady

    Not always right but never wrong.

  54. Anastasia

    The End! 🙂

  55. Rhonda Struthers

    I will see you in your dreams

  56. JAMES LYNAM

    “I WILL BE BACK”

  57. Benita Glickman

    Memories, evaporated like spilt perfume.

  58. Tarah

    Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”

  59. Sharon C

    Death be not proud.

  60. Ed Nemmers

    “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

  61. Pam Flynn

    They that have the power to hurt and will do none…
    They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces.

  62. Karen Koziczkowski

    don’t go

  63. Lily Kwan

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

  64. Tim Moss

    Good deal, count me in!

  65. Francine Anchondo

    The friends we have lost do not repose under the ground…they are buried deep in our hearts

  66. LabRat517

    I intend to live forever or die trying.

  67. Jaime Cummings

    “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love /
    If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.”
    -Whitman

    Simple and makes me smile.

  68. Alyson Widen

    Past perfect, future…the rest is unknown.

  69. Joy Venters

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

Comments are closed.