Thursday, July 24, 2008


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Suggested by: Nithin

Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

I'm glad this prompt says sentences because however would I choose just one? I actually bought a book of opening sentences, Novel Openers several years back. Not that I needed it for the sentences below; just reading them now makes me want to throw all my current books aside and dive back into these.


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

--Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant


I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of the well.

--Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red


My parents seemed to believe in letting everyone do whatever they wanted until they became very good at it or died.

--Robin Hemley, Nola: A Memor of Faith, Art, and Madness


The madwoman in the attic was standing at the window.

--Peter Rushforth, Pinkerton's Sister


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

--Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold


Daddy said it was a bedsheet, a fitted bedsheet, and he said she was wearing it up on her shoulders like a cape with two of the corners knotted around her neck.

--T.R. Pearson, A Short History of a Small Place


From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that--a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them.

--William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!


And a first sentence engraved into my head since childhood:

The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.

--Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

Booking Through Thursday


gautami tripathy said...

How could I have forgotten the Orhan Pamuk's opening?


Here is my BTT post

thekoolaidmom said...

I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of the well.

--Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

That's a fantastic first sentence. I'll have to add that book to my wishlist.

I read Black Beauty with my kids a couple years back, and I remember it was such a sweet book, but it had some very sad moments. It's one of my middle daughter's favorite books, she's my horselover.

SFP said...

It was the first book that broke my heart. Poor Ginger indeed.

Smilingsal said...

Any first line of William Faulkner tells the reader that it will take some concentration to get through, but it will be worth it.

Karen Harrington said...

Oh Faulkner. Of course! Thanks for reminding me of that book.

Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing these. I want that book -- Novel Openers! I hope it's still in print. I love stuff like this.

C. B. James said...

Great selection. I enjoyed reading them all.

Confuzzled Books said...

Wow those are some lines!

Charli and me said...

I loved your post.

jlshall said...

Thanks for reminding me about Black Beauty. I loved that as a child - it has a great opening line and the rest of the book is lovely, too.

Jill said...

I love the idea that there's a book devoted to the opening lines of books. I'm definitely going to have to check that one out!

smariek said...

Ooooh, that sounds like a neato mosquito book. I want!!!!

Here's my BTT; every time I leave a comment on the BTT site, it never appears! :-(

Nithin said...

Those are some great opening lines.

I used the word "sentences" exactly for that reason. ;-) There are too many interesting openers to just write about one. Here's my list of memorable opening sentences.