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    Monday, January 30, 2006

    Best First Lines

    100 Best First Lines From Novels at American Book Review. While the order might not suit my preferences, I am happy to see many of my musts made their way to this list.

    Of course, many of these "best first lines" are "best" because they opened great novels that everyone read and therefore recognized the first lines of. For example, #37: "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

    Of course, so not true for these:

    33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree." —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

    5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

    6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

    10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

    16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

    17. 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. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

    26. 124 was spiteful. —Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

    30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

    36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled. —William Gaddis, J R (1975)

    39. They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

    41. The moment one learns English, complications set in. —Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

    44. Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

    49. It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

    50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. —Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

    61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge (1944)

    62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

    63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. —G. K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

    67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

    71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —GŸnter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

    72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. —Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

    78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. —L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

    99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. —Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

    Found it on Feministe.

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