These are the 'best sentences' in all English language literature - James Joyce, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens weren't American.
Nabokov would be stretching the definition, though he spent much of his creative life in America; Jane Austen famously mentioned baseball, so maybe she's sort of an honorary American.
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
It was a dark and stormy night...
"Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives."
"I like big butts and I can not lie" - Sir Mix-A-Lot
“All right then, I'll go to hell” Huck Finn
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....
"Best" in all literature written in English, actually.
Good night, noises everywhere.
Not sure if literature:
"The sea was angry that day, like an old man trying to return soup, in a deli."
-- George Costanza, Seinfeld
A fabulous line. I was always a fan of the exchange about hyperspace jumps.
"It's rather unpleasantly like being drunk."
"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
"You ask a glass of water."
Darn, you beat me to it
What?!?!?! But they spoke and wrote in English!
And on that note, why is the accompanying photograph of a non-English (Czech?) typewriter?
This would actually get my vote. What a wonderful surprise it was when I finally read this as an adult, without the heavy expectations of a literature class hanging over my head, to find such a brave and unapologetic moral voice in that book.
The 'Best Sentence' in litterature, IMHO, is: "Mr. Thaumatechnician, I'm calling from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and I can confirm that you won the 6/49 jackpot and there are no other winners."
/Or any other Canadian lottery - 'cuz there's no income tax on their winnings, natch.
//Actually, I would have taken a different line or three from Joyce's Portrait of the Artist. I listened to a very good reading of it a few weeks ago and my breath was taken away so many times, but not by the line that was quoted in the linked-to article.
///Personally, and since The American Scholar seems to think that people who have never been in America qualify as Americans, there are a few lines written by Al Purdy that outshone the sentences in the article. For instance:...
Oh, I'm off to read some Purdy. I may update this post later, if I can pick one line. In the meanwhile, check out "In the Early Cretaceous".
“All right then, I'll go to hell” - James Joyce, Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man.
I don't know why this line popped into my head when I read the Adams line...
We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them.
-- Terry Bisson (THEY'RE MADE OUT OF MEAT)
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
― William Gibson, Neuromancer