Your favorite scene in any book you like

32 posts / 0 new
Last post
Your favorite scene in any book you like



Didn't want to cause thread drift in the babble reads vs. CBC reads thread, since that seems more like a list thread than a blabbing-about-the-book thread, so I thought I'd start a new thread for this.

I see I wasn't the only Duddy Kravitz fan in the other thread. (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, by Mordecai Richler.) Well, it's hard to pick a favorite scene from that book since there are probably three or four that still make me laugh out loud on the 23rd reading of the book.

But the bar mitzvah movie scene in the book is one of the most hysterical things I've ever read. For those who haven't read the book, Duddy Kravitz tries to start a movie business, where he makes movies for family events like weddings and bar mitzvahs. He hires this blacklisted "artiste" non-Jewish director who insists on absolutely no artistic interference, and will not allow anyone, even Duddy, to see the final product until the first "screening" which is for the family.

The first movie they make is for a bar mitzvah. The movie turns out to be this ridiculous montage of clips from the bar mitzvah mixed with tribal imagery and music, overwrought documentary narrative where the ceremony is described as if it's some primitive rite, etc.

Richler mixes the description of the movie with all the horrified, funny, and sarcastic interjections of all the members of the boy's family and relatives in the audience.

Seriously, it's laugh-out-loud funny. And I do laugh out loud, every time I read it.

[ 02 March 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

The seen in the Case of Comrade Tulayev, by Victor Serge, where Commrade Chief Prosecutor Echerov (fictional) muses to himself as an expert professional on the quality and competence of the people who organize his own arrest.

Cueball Cueball's picture

One book that I find very hard to pick a favourite scene from is Catch 22, since it was all so damn good. Though, the description of Major Major stands out, but that really isn't a scene.


the scene in Harry Potter Book 5 when the Weezly twins are showing off their magic kits for cutting classes.

also a lot of the scenes in books by the writer that wrote Mystic River, i forget his name right now. there's a character named Bubba who is a crack-up.


I think that this thread will be my inspiration to reread Duddy Kravitz. I'll admit, I read it in High School, and I despised it. Despised it to the point that I rented the Richard Dreyfuss version, which I found equally as dull. Since then, I've adored much of Mordecai Richler's books, so I think it's time I step up, and give this book one more chance.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

First: from [i]Love in the Time of Cholera[/i] by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Fermina Daza has been sent away (for two years) by her father from her pining lover, Florentino Ariza, who wooed Fermina with his violin and a serenade called "The Crowned Goddess." Ariza, sick with love, has emptied his heart with poetry, letters, and gifts, desperate with love during his betrothed's absence. But Fermina has grown up in the two years they have been apart. Florentino is awed by her mature grace and beauty as he tracks her through the marketplace:


To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.


She sank into the hot clamor of the shoeshine boys and the bird sellers, the hawkers of cheap boots and the witch doctors and the sellers of sweets who shouted over the din of the crowd: pineapple sweets for your sweetie, coconut candy is dandy, brown-sugar loaf for your sugar...She was awakened from the spell by a good-natured black woman with a colored cloth around her head who was round and handsome and offered her a triangle of pineapple speared on the tip of a butcher's knife. She took it, she put it whole into her mouth, she tasted it, and was chewing it as her eyes wandered over the crowd, when a sudden shock rooted her on the spot. behind her, so close to her ear that only she could hear it in the tumult, she heard his voice:

"This is not the place for a crowned goddess."

She turned her head and saw, a hand's breadth from her eyes, those other glacial eyes, that livid face, those lips petrified with fear, just as she had seen them in the crowd at Midnight Mass the first time he was so close to her, but now, instead of the commotion of love, she felt th abyss of disenchantment. In an instant the magnitude of her own mistake was revealed to her, and she asked herself, appalled, how she could have nurtured such a chimera in her heart for so long and with so much ferocity. She just managed to think: My God, poor man! Florentino smiled, tried to say something, tried to follow her, but she erased him from her life with a wave of her hand.

"No, please," she said to him. "Forget it."

My heart both breaks and cheers for this moment.

[ 03 March 2007: Message edited by: Catchfire ]



Originally posted by jrose:
[b]I think that this thread will be my inspiration to reread Duddy Kravitz. I'll admit, I read it in High School, and I despised it. Despised it to the point that I rented the Richard Dreyfuss version, which I found equally as dull. Since then, I've adored much of Mordecai Richler's books, so I think it's time I step up, and give this book one more chance.[/b]

Well, that's kind of the rule, that books suck when you have to do them for Grade 11 English and pick out the Christ-like figures and figure out who is moving from innocence to experience. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] I think it would be fun to go over the English class reading lists and re-read all the books (except Shakespeare! No Shakespeare! Yuk!) that were forced on us. Pretty much every book I was ever forced to do for English class (I say "do" because I hardly ever read them) I've loved when I read them after high school. The Chrysalids. Duddy Kravitz (although I liked that one when I read it for school, actually, because it was grade 13 and I had come BACK to school after dropping out). A Separate Peace. Fifth Business (another one I liked at the time as well, but I love it even more now).


P.S. That's awesome, Catchfire, but so sad!


No one has heard of [b]Peter De Vries[/b] these days, but he was an editor of The New Yorker and a very funny man. He delt with the great changes in American society after WWII and their effect on individuals.

His book: [b]The Blood of the Lamb[/b] is about life and God and the dichotomy between belief and actuality.

The protagionist's daughter has cancer and is in a ward with another little girl she with whom has made friends. The fathers get along in their questioning of the existance of such a terrible desease in children.

Wanderthop was raised a Dutch Christian and still has flickering of his faith within him, Stein, the other father, is a Jew who has rejected Judism, God and spirituality entirely.

They go out for a drink and come back to be greeted by Mrs. Stein who invites them to see the two little girls playing together.


'Arn't they just too sweet together?' She beemed at the doorway.

'Life long friends' said Stein, who gave and asked no quarter.

I know that line is coming, I have read the books several times, but still I involuntarily suck in my breathe every time I read it.

Bobolink Bobolink's picture

Miles Vorkosigan's dinner party in [b]A Civil Campaign[/b] by Lois McMaster Bujold.The total melt-down of a high social event into farce remains hysterical with each reading.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture



Well, that's kind of the rule, that books suck when you have to do them for Grade 11 English and pick out the Christ-like figures and figure out who is moving from innocence to experience.

is hilarious. And true. (Although, I have to take umbrage at the anti-Shakespeare sentiment. Anyone who can think that after watching King Lear carry the dead body of his daughter Cordelia:


Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever! (V.iii)

has no heart. Plus, Gloucester gets his eyes ripped out [i]on stage![/i] That's sick!)

Anyway, this is also one of my favourite, touching, heartbreaking and beautiful passages/scenes ever. Equal parts predictability and pretension, but what are you gonna do.

Molly Bloom drifting off to sleep after her infidelity with Blazes Boylan and after her husband Leopold has just come home late after a very peculiar/ordinary day in [i]Ulysses[/i]:


the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharans and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where 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 Jo 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.



Well, that's kind of the rule, that books suck when you have to do them for Grade 11 English

Well-said! Of the high school english books I was forced to read I loved the Chrysalids, To Kill a Mockingbird and Timothy Findley's the Wars. That was about the extent of my enjoyment of high school english. Fifth Business is another one that needs a re-read. I remember enjoying it, but dissecting it afterwards ruined it for me.


Robertson Davies wrote some funny books but his style was from a century ago and not everyone is going to appreciate him. The Lyre of Orpheus is my favourite. There's a scene in Rebel Angels where a bunch of university profs and intellectuals get together and chat about, well, stuff, over drinks and snacks. Funny.

The Corrections, by Jonathon Franzen is full of funny and awful scenes.

Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh. Read the chapter\story "Bang to Rites." Hideous.

I don't think anyone can be a true Richler fan without reading Duddy Kravitz. Duddy, the character, turns up in almost all of Richler's main novels: St Urbain's Horseman, Joshua Then And Now, Solomon Gursky (I'm 99 percent positive), and Barney's Version.

Perhaps some Anais Nin passages?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I love [i]Fifth Business[/i]. The last scene, plus the one where the narrator beats that circus woman with his prosthetic leg are both wicked.

I love [i]The Corrections[/i] too.

And Farmpunk is so right. Start with Kravitz, then move through the Richler canon. That poor boy permeates everything he's written. Alternatively, you could just stay with the Hooded Fang and his arch-nemesis--I can think of at least one babbler who would prescribe to that school of thought...


I'm going to cheat cos I have the script of the movie, but we all laugh out loud when we sit around as a family and read the book.

Got to be the black knight "it's just a scratch" scene.


Yeah, I love Robertson Davies, but he was a sexist, racist writer in that kind of paternalistic and "noble savages" sort of way.

But if you can get past that and sort of get into the headspace of the times he was writing about, his novels are excellent, and wickedly funny in parts.

There is a scene in one of his novels that still cracks me up - in A Leaven of Malice - where one of the main characters, the editor of the (thinly disgused Whig Standard in Kingston) paper is talking to one of his staff writers, a guy who is trying to write The Great Canadian Novel, but who is so utterly boring and ridiculous that it'll obviously never go anywhere. Anyhow, this staff writer's working title is "The Plain That Broke The Plough" (I think), and this scene where he's talking to the editor about his book is a total howler.

Davies is fun because he allows himself bit characters that are total parodies and caricatures of "types". I suppose it's a little over the top, but I love that.


Another book - Margaret Atwood's first one, "The Edible Woman," is also a scream in places.

The main character, a woman who is doing all the "ordinary" things - has a job as a secretary, finds an arrogant, rising young lawyer and becomes engaged to him and therefore "makes good" - strikes up this weird friendship with a very stereotypical English graduate student who has no direction, no aim in life, is totally anti-social and odd, and thinks about no one but himself. A "Peter Pan" if you will.

She finds herself in the novel reacting to the utter predictability and boredom of her regular life by pursuing this weird friendship, and also by finding herself unable to eat one type of food, then another, then another.

Anyhow, she goes over to supper at this weird guy's house (he lives with two equally weird guys who are also English grad students, one of whom loves to cook gourmet meals), and she's got this problem where she can't eat most of it, and so she and her friend contrive to have her throw the food across the table while the chef is in the kitchen running back and forth to the table with stuff. The chef comes out at the wrong time, sees the food flying across the table, and in the silence that follows this spectacle, her dopey friend makes a remark that is a total non-sequitor, something about wanting to be an amoeba. It's also a laugh-out-loud scene.

That whole book is full of funny scenes and hilarious caricatures of "types" that women encountered in the 60's, when roles were much more rigid. I totally recommend that book, and I think it should be on every highschool reading list. But it will never be, because there is a sex scene (which is totally non-explicit, but wouldn't want the fundies to get their knickers in a knot), and throughout most of the book, the main character's roommate is trying to get pregnant by tricking a guy who likes to seduce virgins into thinking she's not old enough to drink. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]


I really got a lot out of the Handmaid's Tale, by Atwood, but I read it so many years ago that I don't have an intense enough recollection to add a favourite scene. It's on my summer booklist for sure! It prompted me to go pick up a few of Atwood's other books, but they've sat practically untouched on my bookshelf for a long while now. Soon, I swear, soon I'll finally make time to read!


I always come back to the scene in Camus' The Plague (la Peste) where the city's doctors gather to discuss what is to be done. The majority just cannot accept that what they are facing is bubonic plague. Dr. Rieux calmly accepts their arguments and assures them it does not matter what it is called, so long as they do not act as though it will not kill the majority of the population if they do not take measures against plague. Just brilliant.

And I'm not sure about favourite, but the infamous rape scene in Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is stunning. It leaves you numb.

[ 06 March 2007: Message edited by: Coyote ]


The Handmaid's Tale is probably my least favourite Atwood (not counting her poetry). I did enjoy the Robber Bride, and Oryx and Crake was a good read.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I'm partial to the scene in [i]Black Boy/American Hunger[/i] by Richard Wright, when he goes into the polling booth during the US election and writes "I protest this fraud" on his ballot.

[ 06 March 2007: Message edited by: Left Turn ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

The scene in the guard tower on the road "up country" in the Quite American, by Graham Greene where the British and American antagonists find themselves allied against the two South Vietnamese GI's also stuck in the tower besieged by Viet Minh Guerillas. The two sides can not understand each other, and all dialogue between them is centered around the possession of the only available fire arm.

This scene is apparently partly autobiographical from the period in Greenes life when he is reputed to have taken up the post as a Saigon based Journalist, out of a desire to "catch a bullet," in Vietnam.

[ 06 March 2007: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

Pedant watch!

When did babble go over to the American (and french btw) spelling of favour, more importantly how come no one noticed til now?

Funnily enough, this entry at, recognizes the existance of the traditional Canadian and British spelling but then goes on to use the American version, favor, in the explanative text.



Politics, voting, books, reminds me of Matt Taibbi's Spanking The Donkey. In one scene he pretends he's a republican supporter during the 2004 election, and works with a republican office in Florida. It's a serious piece, even with the obvious attempt at humour.



The lobby looked like a high-budget musical. A lot of light and glitter, a lot of scenery, a lot of clothes, a lot of sound, an all-star cast, and a plot with all the originality and drive of a split fingernail. Under the beautiful soft indirect lighting the walls seemed to go up forever and to be lost in soft lascivious stars that really twinkled. You could just manage to walk on the carpet without waders. At the back was a free-arched stairway with a chromium and white enamel gangway going up in wide shallow carpeted steps. At the entrance to the dining room a chubby captain of waiters stood negligently with a two-inch satin stripe on his pants and a bunch of gold-plated menus under his arm. He had the sort of face that can turn from a polite simper to coldblooded fury almost without moving a muscle.

The bar entrance was to the left. It was dusky and quiet and a bartender moved mothlike against the faint glitter of piled glassware. A tall handsome blond in a dress that looked like seawater sifted over with gold dust came out of the Ladies' Room touching up her lips and turned toward the arch, humming.

The sound of rhumba music came through the archway and she nodded her gold head in time to it, smiling. A short fat man with a red face and glittering eyes waited for her with a white wrap over his arm. He dug his thick fingers into her bare arm and leered up at her.

A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pajamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.

A cigarette girl came down the gangway. She wore an egret plume in her hair, enough clothes to hide behind a toothpick, one of her long beautiful naked legs was silver, and one was gold. She had the utterly disdainful expression of a dame who makes her dates by long distance.

Raymond Chandler - The High Window

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Put Phillip Marlowe in a bar and you have magic.

I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar.

--The Long Goodbye

I had never heard of a gimlet, but Marlowe has a way of making any drink sound attractive

We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor's and drank Gimlets.

"They don't know how to make them here," he said. "What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow."

It beats martinis hollow. Lovely.


I'd like to teach The Big Sleep, but I don't know how I'd go about it.  "Here kids, just read this book and let the words flow over you," is about the best I'd do, even with the references to knights-errant and whatnot.

Here's a passage from something I do teach:


It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.


Chas. Dickens - Hard Times


jrose wrote:
I really got a lot out of the Handmaid's Tale, by Atwood, but I read it so many years ago that I don't have an intense enough recollection to add a favourite scene. It's on my summer booklist for sure! It prompted me to go pick up a few of Atwood's other books, but they've sat practically untouched on my bookshelf for a long while now. Soon, I swear, soon I'll finally make time to read!


So how's the Atwood going?


I like Nick Hornby's High Fidelity a lot, and my favourite scene is where the ex-wife is offering to flog Rob a dream of a catalogue for £10 or whatever (the ex told her to flog it, and keep 10% of it for herself). He refuses, because he somehow feels angst for the ex-husband. I kept on thinking about Rob: "you idiot!"

Refuge Refuge's picture

Nick Hornby also wrote one of my favourite scenes in Long Way down at the beginning of the book there is a very awkward scene of several strangers going to the same building to commit suicide at the same time.  No one is sure how to act.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

There is a chapter in [i]The Count of Monte Cristo[/i], by Alexander Dumas, where a conversation takes place between the surviving members of the Morrel family and the count. [Chapter XXXIII: The Morrel Family] They are discussing their kind benefactor whom they only knew as "Sinbad the Sailor" ...

The son of Morrel Sr., Maximilian, corrects his sister Julie about what their late father believed ... and his death-bed insight.


"Sister, sister," said Maximilian, coming to the count's aid, "the count is quite right. Recollect what our excellent father so often told us, 'It was no Englishman that thus saved us.'" Monte Cristo started "What did your father tell you, M. Morrel?' said he, eagerly.

"My father thought that this action had been miraculously performed - he believed that a benefactor had arisen from the grave to save us. Oh, it was a touching superstition, monsieur, and although I did not myself believe it, I would not for the world have destroyed my father's faith in it. How often did he muse over it and pronounce the name of a dead friend - a friend lost to him forever; and on his death-bed, when the near approach of eternity seemed to have illumined his mind with supernatural light, this thought, which had until then been but a doubt, became a conviction, and his last words were, 'Maximilian, it was Edmond Dantиs!'"

And, of course, it was Edmond Dantиs, aka the Count of Monte Cristo, aka Sinbad the Sailor, to whom this story was told.


At these words the count's paleness, which had for some time been increasing, became alarming; he could not speak; he looked at his watch like a man who has forgotten the time ...

[The count makes his exit.]

"This Count of Monte Cristo is a singular man," said Emmanuel.

"Yes," answered Maximilian, "but I feel sure that he has an excellent heart, and that he likes us."

"His voice went to my heart," observed Julie: "and two or three times I fancied I had heard it before."

All I have to do to bring tears to my eyes is to read that passage. Works every time.