Friday, June 15, 2007

How do you get from here to there?

Can you match these first lines with their last lines? Do you recognize the books they come from? One set of lines comes from a book I spotted someone reading in Central Park; the rest come from some of my favorites minus the ones that are outright obvious.

First Lines

1. Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.

2. The octopus lived in a square plastic box with holes for his arms.

3. The day was hot and dusty with scattered leaves of poplars lining a towpath.

4. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. If you can bend space you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backward in time and exist in two places at once.

5. Gerard Maines lived across the hall from a woman named Benna, who four minutes into any conversation always managed to say the word penis.

6. The madwoman in the attic was standing at the window.

7. When Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her.

8. What makes Iago evil? some people ask. I never ask.

9. Once when I was eleven years old, my father asked me not to buy him cigarettes, even if he begged.

10. Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play Town.

11. When Agustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake--not a very big one.

Last Lines

a. It's old light, and there's not much of it. But it's enough to see by.

b. His sobbing rocked the bed and woke Marriet.

c. Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?

d. As for Mr. Covington, he prayed in the old-fashioned way. It was the last of anything he knew.

e. And high above, he seemd to recall, there had been a little brown airplane, almost motionless, droning through the sunshine like a bumblebee.

f. On the way home, she said to Karel, what a surprising place. But Karel didn't know what she was talking about. David's place hadn't surprised him at all.

g. She rested her bowed head against the upraised arm, her face hidden, her eyes closed.

". . . four, five, six . . ."

h. "The woman," Dillard whispered. "The woman. They say he missed that whore."

i. Why, BZ would say.

Why not, I say.

j. She slammed the book and stood up. All three of them turned then and walked along the river.
k. George fiddles with my coat cuff. "Sometimes," she sighs into the steam, "I feel like I'm right in the mist of things."

I swear, she is a genius.


Good luck! I can list the titles in comments if anyone needs help. . .


  1. I'm trying, but I'm afraid I'm no good at this ... somebody help me out!!

  2. Okay, in no particular order:

    Pinkerton's Sister
    Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
    Lonesome Dove
    Cloud Atlas
    Harriet the Spy
    Play It As It Lays
    Mr. Darwin's Shooter
    Realms of Gold
    Cat's Eye
    Crooked Hearts

    Hope that helps!

  3. Oh, I don't feel too bad since I've never read any of those books before, not even Harriet the Spy. I felt I should have known the one with Pearl Tull though.

  4. I was going to feel really bad that I didn't know any of these but I've only read two of the books so I guess that's my excuse!

  5. Yea, I recognized Cloud Atlas! But I have to say, though I've read some of these on your list, I didn't recognize anything else. But what a cool game--thannks!

  6. I recognized Lonesome Dove, Anagrams, Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant and Harriet The Spy.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.