This is topic Page 56 in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by kings_falcon (Member # 3261) on :
So a friend on Facebook sent the following note. I thought it would be interesting way to see what we're all reading and if those lines are still hooky.

I think this one is:

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post it as a reply here.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

So my closest book doesn't have a 5th sentance - it's a chapter end, but here's the fourth:

"But I was thinking about a suitcase on the floor, about a face I could never quite see, about the sweet smell of cold cream."

The Secret Lives of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
This is right up my procrastinating alley. I haven't even read this book yet, so I'm glad to have an excuse to open it. It's:

"I won't try to control him the way you're saying."
Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card


Posted by Monk (Member # 8295) on :
I fudged slightly since the first sentance is the second half of one from the page before and the actual 5th sentance is only 4 words "His face was impassive." so I will actually post the sentance after that:

'You're on no special deployment that I know of, Oshima-san' he said quietly, and around us the deComs exploded in angry reaction.

Woken Furies - Richard Morgan

Which makes me then ask the question. Is that proper punctuation! and how about the adverb!



Posted by Monk (Member # 8295) on :
Ok, "someone" is trying to get brownie points!


Posted by Grovekeeper (Member # 5650) on :
"Variables in JavaScript are fundamentally the same as object properties."

JavaScript, The Definitive Guide (5th Ed.), David Flanagan (ORA).

Pretty gripping stuff, I know; you caught me at work.


[This message has been edited by Grovekeeper (edited November 21, 2008).]

Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
"I loved Joan of Arc and wanted to be like her."

--Japan at War

[This message has been edited by JamieFord (edited November 21, 2008).]

Posted by rich (Member # 8140) on :
I just picked this one up yesterday, so it happens to be close by. Otherwise it would've been a comic book.

"Ryabovitch stood still in hesitation..."

from The Essential Tales of Chekhov, edited by Richard Ford.

Posted by gobi13x (Member # 6837) on :
"This issue places nurses in a moral and ethical vise (Anderson, 1992; Collopy et al., 1990)."

-Medical Surgical Nursing

Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
The house of Mathias ben Iesu lay halfway down the street, toward the obelisk, its delapidated façade recessed into shadow. - from Men of Bronze by Scott Oden.
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
"I ain't Joe Bones yet, boss. Just Mama Bonanno's boy Joey."

Ted Bell - "Pirate"


[This message has been edited by Rhaythe (edited November 21, 2008).]

Posted by annepin (Member # 5952) on :


A Wind in the Door
Madeleine L'Engle

(I cheated--I grabbed the closest fiction book, since I'm surrounded by non-fiction. The excerpt from the closest non-fiction book would be:


Like the giant sequoia, closed-cone pines and some cypress (Cupressus spp.) trees have made significant adaptations to fire, sometimes to the point of dependency, relying particularly on serotinous cones.

Introduction to Fire in California by David Carle.

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited November 21, 2008).]

Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
You said the closest so....

"I'll prove," said the rabbit, "my ears are the best."

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

By Dr. Suess

I just read one of the stories to my daughter.

Posted by arriki (Member # 3079) on :
The raincoat guy was sweating, and the gun was shaking in his hand.

HIGH FIVE by Janet Evanovich
page 56, fifth sentence

See what literary stuff I read?

Posted by J (Member # 2197) on :
"This was more than simple vanity on Hitler's part."

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism

Posted by Cheyne (Member # 7710) on :
I didn't cheat. The closest book is one of my second grade son's books.
4000 Things You Should Know.

Usually only tiny nuclei such as those of hydrogen and helium fuse.

Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
The closest book is a galley. According to the back cover, December 2 is the publication date. I've read two pages so far.

"He put his lenses back on and made a show of cracking his knuckles."
- Peacekeeper by Laura E. Reeve

If galleys don’t count, the next closest is Reagan's Game by our own R. Safley.

Posted by ChrisOwens (Member # 1955) on :
The closest was nonfiction:

"Some aspects of these programs will be introduced fully later, so don't feel like you're falling behind."--Sam's Teach Yourself Java 2 in 24 Hours

The closest fiction:
"That's what everyone says about everything new," said Sarah. --Rollback, by Robert J. Sawyer

Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
"She could go home and sweep the floor and chop the wood and talk to the bees--and read more hand-sewn books and crumbling piecemeal manuscripts about Chalicehood."

CHALICE by Robyn McKinley, fifth COMPLETE sentence, page 56

Posted by Spaceman (Member # 9240) on :
"I cooled him, all right, I told him to go take a flying f***."

Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad

(edited to add the author)

[This message has been edited by Spaceman (edited November 21, 2008).]

Posted by MartinV (Member # 5512) on :
"The Band advances to the cadence of the flute, and has no call for retreat."

Steven Pressfield: Alexander, the Virtues of War

Just pulled it out of the shelf to post a quote on a different forum ten minutes ago.

Posted by debhoag (Member # 5493) on :
Yet there was my guardian angel to consider.

Penance, by David Housewright.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
"Sydney must have been away from home, as the only name of a relative entered on the forms was that of her sister, Kate Hill, then living at 27 Montague Place, Russell Square."

---Chaplin: His Life and Art, David Robinson.

Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
" "Om," the man said quietly, "om." "
Golden Buddha - Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo

And at the pace I am struggling through it, it will be there for another month. Just another author who has forgotten how to write. Not saying he was ever the best, but I used to read his books in a day, 2 tops, now, the later ones and the ones he co-authors, I am lucky to finish.

Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
I assume you meant to include the first sentence, even if its a half of one from the page before.

The black suited white executives who ran the Big Five, the companies that controlled Hawaii, hadn't wanted to know what to do with Japanesse that acted American.

End of the Beginning by Harry Turtledove

Posted by JenniferHicks (Member # 8201) on :
Dialogue is important in fiction.

"The 10% Solution" by Ken Rand

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
The suit says this is day twenty.

The State of the Art - Ian M. Banks

A book of his short stories containing one of my favorite short stories, also called 'The State of the Art'.

Posted by AstroStewart (Member # 2597) on :
"An accident," she said in a flat voice, then shook her head and vanished back inside the hut.

"The Dragon Reborn" (Wheel of Time #3)
by Robert Jordan

Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
All the lanterns were shuttered halfway so that a cool twilight suffused the air, lending an ethereal feel to the event.

ELDEST by Christopher Paolini

Is there a point to this exercise?

Posted by monstewer (Member # 5883) on :
Strange, because I remember reading this sentence last night and loving it:

Mrs Bancroft must have sensed that the interview was drawing to a close, because the tension puddled out of her like oil from a cracked sump.

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

Posted by Symphonyofnames (Member # 8283) on :
In recent years, these nations and their allies within non-governmental organizations have lobbied strongly to better protect the resources of countries rich in tradition knowledge and biodiversity.

From Freedom of Expression™ by Kembrew McLeod.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Point of the exercise: what joy and fun can be found in random things, like what the fifth sentence on page fifty-six of any handy nearby book can reveal to you, and also to others.

I picked up another book, Steve Martin's Born Standing Up, to post another sentence. But, in this case, Page Fifty-Six is blank...

Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Is there a point to this exercise?

How about this?

Some of those sentences were intriguing enough that I might even pick up the book sometime and read it. They say to me that even on page 56, the writing should be compelling. In fact, the writing should be compelling all the way through the book.

Posted by seikari (Member # 8327) on :
"She followed him more carefully through the tunnels of folding chairs and arrived at a cavelike hollow where he was already lighting a stump of candle."

- The Ruby in Smoke by Philip Pullman

Wow, I went through 4 short sentences and I end up at this monolith.

Posted by steffenwolf (Member # 8250) on :
Fun exercise!

Yertle the turtle really has 56 pages?

I have 2 books that could be considered the closest, depending what part of my body the measurement starts at (that's an engineer answer if I ever heard one :P)

Closest to my head:

>>We assume that the discrete levels are equally spaced and that they are integers in the interval [0,L-1].

Digital Image Processing, Second Edition by Rafael C. Gonzalez & Richard E. Woods

Closest to my feet:

>>That's according to some of the stories I've heard on Casey Key."

Duma Key by Stephen King

Posted by C L Lynn (Member # 8007) on :
A fantasy writer should keep her "Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures" close at hand:

"She put the infants into a boat to save them from the wrath of Balor, but two of them drowned."

Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
The Yertle the Turtle book has three short stories in it. The line was from the last story.
Posted by wrenbird (Member # 3245) on :
"We salute you at the beginning of a great career."

Crossing to Safety-Wallace Stegner

Posted by tempest (Member # 8242) on :
this is an interesting thread....

closest to me:
"While the division into ego and shadow comes from Jung, it's and idea that humankind has recognized for centuries and that we all immediately understand: that the self is both dark and light, that the world contains both good and evil." oof

The Poet's Companion. Kim Addonizio & Dorianne Laux


Posted by Monk (Member # 8295) on :
I find it an interesting excercise because Monstewer and I had the same author within the closest distance! Also, it looks like there is a fair percentage of IT people on the boards as well.


Posted by Reagansgame (Member # 8149) on :
hey aspirit, the closest book to me happens to be Reagan's Game by our very own R. Safley, too, a stack of them (smaller, but still there).

"Bethany could see and feel her sorrow, she didn't need to hear it to know it was there."

augh. why couldn't it have been a really bomb one-liner, like the one about Mr. Shooty? The point of this exercise for me is: Write every line as if it may one day be featured in an online discussion, as if it were a work of art made of words.

Where's the thread on: Being in print means being prepared to look back at your work and see how far you've come (or see how lame you once were).

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I kept my eyes open.

That's from page fifty-six of my own latest, the rough draft printout that I'm slowly turning into second draft, that sits beside me to my left as I write this...

Posted by steffenwolf (Member # 8250) on :
This was fun enough last week, I thought I'd post page 56 when I start new books.

"It was very slow."

--We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
In particular page 56 is in the short story "Jon's World"

Posted by steffenwolf (Member # 8250) on :
"I have forgotten the names and faces of almost every other protester, and that's after two years of enduring the elements with those very good people, berating distant politicans as well as the occasional drivers who showed us their middle fingers."

F&SF December 2008


Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
This week it's:


The Plataean shared his intelligence of the enemy.

-Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
Thanks, IB. Years ago I read sections of Gates of Fire over my husband's shoulder. Though he paraphrased the remaining sections to me, I promised myself I would read the book from start to finish one day. I will start tomorrow.
Posted by KPKilburn (Member # 6876) on :
You must know the address space behind the firewall or router, however, which is often difficult if NAT (Network Address Translation) is involved.

I'm kidding. A friend just sent me some books and this was the closest to me. It's from Hacking Exposed (4th Edition) by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, and George Kurtz.

[This message has been edited by KPKilburn (edited December 03, 2008).]

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