Today I am setting us an impossible task: what’s the best chapter in literature? Since it’s way too subjective, just figure out what “best” means to you before you answer.
It’s easier to talk glibly about the best books, best series, etc. Once the entire story has been told, I tend to judge the whole, not to think about its parts. Or if I do, it’s more along the lines of “Wow, that scene was great,” or “Could you believe it when he…?” Moments in the story, scenes, set pieces that I don’t give much consideration to on their own.
But let’s try anyway. Chapters, scenes, whatever you/I want to call them.
The Whiteness of the Whale in Moby Dick
The chapter with the volcano in Blood Meridian.
The chapter with Ignatius’ political rally in A Confederacy of Dunces.
It’s not a chapter, but I love when the seven sins visit Dr. Faustus
Kilgore Trout messing up his shoes in Breakfast of Champions
Chapter 17 , The Soldier in White from Catch 22
The Chapter in The Witches when the witches are revealed. I still remember being revolted by how disgusting Dahl was able to make them, even without the pictures.
I can’t pick one: I’m putting in every single addiction scene from Infinite Jest.
Winston’s first weeks in the Ministry of Love from 1984
The most photographed barn from Don Delillo’s White Noise
The chapter-length intro to Chris Bohjalian’s Night Strangers is superb
Larry navigating the corpse-clogged tunnel in The Stand
The Boss putting on his armor for the first time in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The big reveal chapter in Foucault’s Pendulum
Andrew Solomon on his mother’s death in The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
I still love the cour des miracles chapter from Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The battle with Fenris the Feared in the Joe Abercrombie First Law trilogy
The Red Wedding from George RR Martin’s third book in the Ice and Fire books
The incredibly arrogant professor’s snooty introduction in The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The entire Mormon scene in Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet
I’m going to turn this over to you or I’m never going to stop.
Add whatever you like and give your reasons if possible.