Friday, January 14, 2011

Amazing First Lines

Every book, song, poem, sentence,or anything involving language has a first line. Some are good, some bad and some become famous. “It was a dark and stormy night” isn’t just a joke, a Peanuts cartoon or inspiration for a contest. It actually comes from a book (which we unfortunately don’t own) Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. I was hoping that “I do not like green eggs and ham” was the first line of that Dr. Seuss classic but it isn’t. I will let you puzzle over what the first line is and bravo to those who get it right without looking it up.

None-the-less here is a list of my favourite first lines. They may not be the most well-known (or not) but for some reason or other they grabbed my interest.

“Once upon a time...” which is in pretty much any fairy tale.

“If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.”
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

“I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.”
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

“We were somewhere around Barston on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“They’re out there, black boys in white suits before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.”.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 1984 by George Orwell.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“Mother died today.”
The Stranger by Albert Camus

“All this happened, more or less.”
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“They shoot the white girl first.”
Paradise by Toni Morrison,

“You’ll want to scratch”, said the nurse. “ Don’t” said the orderly. “
No One Thinks of Greenland by John Griesemer

I was born twice; first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August or 1974."
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

“Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

“His eyes were metallic blue jewel beetles peering out from underneath a pair of furry black caterpillars.....just looking at him, you’d never guess he was a professional killer.”
Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh.

“I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver.”
Push by Sapphire (also know as Precious after the movie adaptation).

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice, not because of his voice or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death but because he is the reason I believe in God."
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. “
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.”
The Crow Road by Iain M. Banks

“Who wouldn’t be skeptical when a man claims to have spent an entire weekend with God, in a shack no less?”
The Shack by William Paul Young

“I do not want to remember her last hour.”
Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff.

And for the last line of this blog I challenge/request you to send me your favorite first lines, or if you choose last lines. Maybe you can inspire me to write a blog about that.

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