"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."I remember reading this in an English lit. lesson in high school and the teacher asking us why we thought George Orwell had written the sentence like that. She stopped us after reading one sentence. I think it was the first time that that had ever occurred to me, that there was more than a story behind the words that there might be a reason why certain words had been chosen.
George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
The second first line is one of my favourite quotes full stop - just beautifully descriptive and true.
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."And I was trying to think of modern first lines that had the same effect on me. And I'm coming up short. Most stories that I read now, don't seem to have that magic first line. It might be a magic first paragraph, or a magic first page, but not that first line that condenses everything the book is about into one sentence.Not a line that you can look back on from the end of the book and realise when you read the story again that the line will play in your head throughout the re-read.
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)
So, I've tried to find some good first lines from recent fiction. Something actually on my bookshelf. Something with a real fish hook flair. And I've come up with the following.
"I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary. The fact that it had my name on it was sort of a clue."Okay, technically the first two lines so it's a little bit of a cheat. But it's the best UF opening I've come up with.
Touch the Dark, Karen Chance (2006)
"The dog would not die."Certainly made me want to keep on reading.
Eyes of Crow, Jeri Smith-Ready (2006)
So is it that I now read completely the wrong sort of books, is the stunning opening line the reserve of the older literary classic? Surely someone has some modern favourites they'd like to share, or maybe one from an old classic they really love, or a comment on why the openings of UF fiction seem to take a little longer to get going. Is it that UF readers are more patient? LOL,based on my own patience quotient I don't think so.
I have a copy of Naked Brunch by Sparkle Hayter to give away to one commenter to this post. Poster chosen at random by the random number generator at random.org on Friday.