Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Great First Lines

Last night a friend sent me an email, wondering if I could identify the quotes in it. They were mostly from Shakespeare. Now I love Shakespeare, but that was a brutal exercise. I think I got one from Richard III, and of course I did also get that most famous of the bard's lines: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."

But it did make me think about great first lines of novels, so I thought I'd throw some out here. I absolutely will not use "It is a truth universally acknowledged..." because everyone knows that, and also "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times..." Rather, I'll just put down some great opening lines from some books I love. I'll put the books they're from tomorrow, in case you want to guess any. Or Google them, I don't care. Do you like how I nonchalantly threw those options out there, just like it won't matter to me at all if there are ZERO comments on this post? Really. It won't hurt my feelings one little bit. Promise. Not a bit.

So, without further they are.

1. Except for the Marabar Caves--and they are twenty miles off--the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.

2. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

3. When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

4. Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski always gave great answers.

5. The Garden Committee had met to discuss the earth; not the whole earth, the terrestial globe, but the bit of it that had been stolen from the Gardens in the Square.

6. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

7. "I have been here before" I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June...

8. A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

9. The clothes of the dead won't wear long.

10. To have a reason to get up in the morning, it is necessary to possess a guiding principle.

11. "Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

12. "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. (sooooo easy)

13. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

14. "There are dragons in the twins' vegetable garden."

15. Claudia knew she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away.

16. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.

17. Gwenda Reed stood, shivering a little, on the quayside.

18. One day, Old Witch, the head witch of all the witches, was banished.

19. No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

20. On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o'clock and no wonder, it was my birthday.

and for an extra one, the first line of the book I am currently rerererereading:

21. My ordeal began one summer afternoon when I received a telephone call from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ta da--there you go.


Laura Brown said...

I got 2, 3, 11-13 and 16. Not sure if I should post the answers, though.

Alice said...

Yeah, go for it!

Katie said...

Alice, I've got 3, 11, and 12. I feel like I should know #2, but I can't quite name it. I think I might move way down on the list of your "people I values as fiends" after this!