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Favorite literary opening lines

 
 
jespah
 
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 02:00 pm
Call me Ishmael.

Or it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Which literary first lines (they don't need to be classics) float your book-readin' boat? Do tell.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 16 • Views: 3,358 • Replies: 100

 
InfraBlue
 
  5  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 02:06 pm
@jespah,
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

1984, George Orwell
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 02:10 pm
@InfraBlue,
Excellent!
0 Replies
 
George
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 02:15 pm
TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am;
but why will you say that I am mad?

"The Tell-tale Heart"
~Edgar Allen Poe
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 03:05 pm
I am living at the Villa Borghese.
- Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Afterward, he tried to reduce it to abstract terms, an accident in a world of accidents, the collision of opposing forces - the bumper of his car and the frail scrambling hunched-over form of a dark little man with a wild look in his eye - but he wasn't very successful.
T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 03:33 pm
STATELY, PLUMP BUCK MULLIGAN CAME FROM THE STAIRHEAD, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

James Joyce, Ulysses
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:00 pm
My mother would be disappointed if I didn't add this one from Pride & Prejudice:
Jane Austen wrote:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
0 Replies
 
Sturgis
 
  5  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:05 pm
In the town there were two mutes and they were always together. from
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers.

Also captivated by . The small white steamer, Peter Stuyvesant, that delivered the immigrants from the stench and throb of steerage to the stench and throb of New York tenements, rolled slightly on the water beside the stone quay in the lee of the weathered barracks and the new brick buildings of Ellis Island. . from Call It Sleep, by Henry Roth
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:09 pm
What is so great is seeing a few books I don't know about! Thanks!
Sturgis
 
  3  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:19 pm
. At five o'clock that morning reveille was sounded as usual, by the blows of a hammer on a length of rail hanging up near the staff quarters. . from One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:35 pm
Yes, Dr. Ebenezer is lonely.
Gerald Rosen, Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store
Not much of an opening, but, I really liked it.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:39 pm
@jespah,
Ditto.

quote,
In this book, the result of my inquiries into history, I hope to do two things: to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of the Asiatic peoples; secondly, and more particularly, to show how the how races came into conflict.

Herodotis, Book One
Translation by Aubrey de Selincourt
Penguin Classics
$1.45 (probably when I started uni, but maybe from a used book store)

I've read part of it, paperback falling apart.
Sounds so very British.

0 Replies
 
ossobucotemp
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 04:49 pm
Lucrezia: All night long it was snowing. A month ago there was rain. And a few months ago there was sunshine. It seems to me I have been up here for centuries.

Beatrice Cenci
A play by Alberto Moravia

(the basic story is probably on wiki)
0 Replies
 
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 05:45 pm
As soon as the car bringing the mayor of New York --- a fine gray Pontiac borrowed for the occasion --- had stopped at the entrance to the village of Isnello, and Signor Impellitteri and his signora had got out, amid the clamor of applause and the clash of the town band, into a confused mass of policemen, motorcyclists, journalists, photographers, inquisitive speculators, infinite cousins and second cousins and other relations, townsmen, peasants, shepherds, women, and in fact, the whole 4,ooo inhabitants of Isnello who were all waiting for him, the village boys crowded around it, pushing and knocking against each other, elbowing to a way through so as to touch it.

Words Are Stones
Carlo Levi

1951

Impressions of Sicily by the author of Christ Stopped at Eboli



I don't think I have read this. Crimini! Not sure..
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 05:52 pm
@edgarblythe,
Here's a bunch:
http://americanbookreview.org/100BestLines.asp
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 07:28 pm
On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 07:32 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I want to hear what you like. Smile
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 07:38 pm
Catherine Tekakwitha, who are you?
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2016 07:55 pm
@jespah,
I really love this one.
"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  3  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2016 04:30 am
@jespah,
Paul Auster wrote:

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.

City of Glass, the first book to his New York Trilogy

John Wyndham wrote:

When a day you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

The Day of the Triffids
0 Replies
 
 

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