Kee Malesky

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They're your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I'm especially fond of:

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Apples — right off the tree, baked in a pie, pressed into cider or mashed into sauce — are a basic element of American culture. October is the month to celebrate them, thanks, in part, to Johnny Appleseed.

You've probably heard of the legendary character who traveled the Midwest planting trees, but he's not a myth. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman, and he was born in Massachusetts in either 1774 or 1775.

In mid-September 1862, the Civil War was only a year and a half old, and many Americans in the North and the South still clung to the view that this war was a noble, glorious, even romantic undertaking. That notion was shattered forever when Alexander Gardner and his assistant James Gibson, working for photographer Mathew Brady's firm, came to Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md.

If you're Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy teeing off in the final rounds of the 2012 PGA Championship this weekend, you're probably not thinking about the fascinating history of the golf ball. But those of us who are just spectating can take a moment to contemplate this little gem of modern engineering. From wood to feathers to tree sap, rubber bands, cork or compressed air — today's little white spheroid has had an interesting evolution.

The 1900 Olympic Games in Paris hosted what was surely the weirdest and most bizarre Olympic event of all time: live pigeon shooting.

The winner was Leon de Lunden of Belgium, who bagged 21 of the 300 birds that were released to the gun-toting competitors. Perhaps the sight of all those gory feathers fluttering down from the Olympic sky was too horrible for the audience and the organizers; the event never returned.