Author Topic: Favorite Opening Lines?  (Read 9427 times)

Wolfe

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Favorite Opening Lines?
« on: September 26, 2013, 10:25:33 PM »
Sio's thread about the worst lines ever, made me wonder, 'What are my favorite opening lines from a novel?'

I have two three that come to mind. The first one's from Evanovich's One for the Money: There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morrelli did this to me—not forever, but periodically.

The second one comes from Kultgen's the average american male:Chapter one. Christmas with Mom and Dad. Same old bullshit.

Edit: The third is from Miller's The Song of Achilles: My father was a king, and the son of kings. He was a short man, as most of us were, and built like a bull, all shoulders. He married my mother when she was fourteen and sworn by the priestess to be fruitful. It was a good match: she was only a child, and her father's fortune would go to her husband. He did not find out until the wedding night that she was simple.

What are some of your favorites?
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 01:12:46 AM by Wolfe »

Offline wanderer

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2013, 10:46:50 PM »
Quote
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 11:27:46 PM »
"The deep rumble of approaching German tanks echoed in my chest."

From: To No Man's Glory
A child's Journey from Holocaust to Healing

By Vincent (Arturs Lejnieks) Benson with Vistoria Harnish Benson.

Now, I know the next one would probably never make it past an agent in today's world, let alone a publisher's desk. But it was published in first in 1948, then reprinted in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952.  (And I'm old enough to enjoy a dip into the past via old books from time to time.)

"Corie Beckett was going to married. Granny Hite had to sit down when she heard the news, and cry a mite, and let her heart thump for joy like a little old tub mill."

The Nine Brides and Granny Hite
By Neill C. Wilson

(These two are just from books close at hand. In my shelves rest many wonderful opening lines I wish were mine.  8) )
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Offline Neghe

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2013, 12:35:24 AM »
Just off the top of my head...

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression “As pretty as an airport." —The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, Douglas Adams

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
―James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss.

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. ―Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book.

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

He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. —H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds.

The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies. Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-snouted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam. Snow fell steadily on to hats and shoulders; gloved fingers wiped lenses clear. From time to time there came outbreaks of desultory clicking, as the watchers filled the waiting time by snapping the white canvas tent in the middle of the road, the entrance to the tall red-brick apartment block behind it, and the balcony on the top floor from which the body had fallen. —The Cuckoo's Calling by, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

There are many more...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 12:45:24 PM by Neghe »
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”― Charles Bukowski

Offline Annmarie

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 03:27:25 AM »
A cute, recent YA-ish hook:

My life might have been so different had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.

- The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant


An older opening from one of the US's most amazing and often bizarre writers:

At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, plowing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haj’ Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar. The year was 1795. George II was dabbing the walls of Windsor Castle with his own spittle, the Notables were botching things in France, Goya was deaf, De Quincey a depraved preadolescent...

-- Water Music by TC Boyle


And finally, a powerful opening to an incredible book:

124 was spiteful. Full of baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims.

--Beloved by Toni Morrison


(So many passives. So much telling. And you know what? I don't care.  :))
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Offline Don

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2013, 05:52:20 AM »
I shook the rain from my hat and walked into the room. Nobody said a word.

I, the Jury, Mickey Spillane


(Nice thread, Wolfe. Thanks.)
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Offline Foxy

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 06:43:58 AM »
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
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Offline protekme

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2013, 02:06:42 PM »

I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.

--Margaret Atwood

-- People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others 
-- I have made this letter longer than usual only because I had no time to make it shorter
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Offline bri h

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 02:39:54 PM »
' When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificance, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.'

The Fellowship of the Ring
(The Lord of the Rings part one) Bri.
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Offline Trejj

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 02:51:48 PM »
How is this for iconic and wonderful, Dickens, A Tale of two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

And I just like Jane Austin's forthright plucky style.  Perfect starter line for her romantic fare: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
 - C.S. Lewis

Offline Neghe

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 03:01:24 PM »
When the car stopped rolling, Parker kicked out the rest of the windshield and crawled through onto the wrinkled hood, Glock first. --Backflash by Richard Stark.

It was not the first time Richard Bone had shaved with a Lady Remington, nor did he expect it to be the last. --Cutter and Bone, Newton Thornburg.

Moran's first impression of Nolen Tyler: He looked like a high risk, the kind of guy who falls asleep smoking in bed. —Cat Chaser, by Elmore Leonard.
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”― Charles Bukowski

JewelAS53

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 05:25:47 AM »
Jeffrey Deaver
Out of Place. - Roadside Crosses
Silence. - The Bodies Left Behind.

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Offline heidi52

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 08:42:32 AM »
My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.

Robertson Davies Fifth Business

I can just imagine how that line would fare if put up for review here.  ;)

Offline Neghe

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 12:49:15 PM »
My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.

Robertson Davies Fifth Business

I can just imagine how that line would fare if put up for review here.  ;)

I feel the same about all the ones I've posted.
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”― Charles Bukowski

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 01:44:15 PM »
Just a thought...

Are some of our favourite first lines favourites because we enjoyed the book so much?  We look back on them with favour because they heralded us into a new and fantastic world.

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