As if I needed a new obsession. But I read about this on the excellent arts blog, About Last Night. Take the very first word of your novel and the very last word of your novel—and often, the “sentence” formed will create a picture of the manuscript as a whole:
“The Jane Chord, to which Bill Buckley introduced us years ago, is a concept originally promulgated by Hugh Kenner. The idea is that if you make a two-word sentence out of the first and last words of a book, it will tell you something revealing about the book in question. Or not: the Jane Chord of Pride and Prejudice is It/them. But every once in a while you run across a Jane Chord so resonant that it makes the room shiver--the chord for Death Comes for the Archbishop is One/built--and even when a famous book yields up nonsense, it's still a good game to play.”
Of course I had to race off to my (still untitled) work-in-progress: “The/unison.” I’m not sure about the grammatical soundness there, but I have to say that the phrase does sum up the whole book concisely, which is about an estranged family.
As for The Great Gatsby: “In/past.” Yes! More evidence that this IS the perfect novel!