Friday, August 6, 2010

Favorite First Lines

After reading Entertainment Weekly list of classic first lines of novels, I winced.  There were some old favorites, to be sure, and I was thrilled to see Neil Gaiman on the list.  Alas, there also were just as many tired titles crowding the shelf.

It's like Rachel in the television series "Friends," who tells everyone her favorite movie is "The English Patient" but it's really "Weekend at Bernie's."  What if we all stood up and said, "Call me Ishmael is tired. Can we please retire it and replace it with another?"

Okay, maybe not in the quiet of our local library.  But you get the picture.

So, let me be the first to stand up and choose new first lines of novels to celebrate (and links to my reviews of those books).


My father had a face that could stop a clock.The Eyre Affair


There once was a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always. The Phantom Tollbooth


The first memory of my father is of a slim young man with a straight nose and a beautiful mouth, black hair and grey-green eyes, dressed in strange greenish trousers and a shirt which had some golden stars and birds on it. I Dreamed of Africa


.... It's not a story for people with thin skins and weak nerves, whom I would advise to replace this book on a pile at once and slink off to the children's section. The City of Dreaming Books (third line)


My name is Wilkie Collins, and my guess, since I plan to delay the publication of this document until at least a quarter century beyond the date of my demise, is that you do not recognise my name. Drood


Walpurgisnacht, the Hexennacht. The last night of April.  The night of witches, when evil walks abroad. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (first three lines)

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