Another post in my First Lines series. Yes, it is here. Novels that are acceptable to discuss at dinner parties.
My choices for First Lines: SABGUS are varied. Please feel free to think of this post as a platter of fine cheeses. Some are light and spreadable, some are solid and must be sliced with a chainsaw. I don’t love all the cheeses. *gasp* What?!
In fact, I will be completely honest with you here and say that I haven’t even read some of these books. A few were taken from my TBR pile (which is not getting any smaller). Also, I raided my husband’s bookshelf to get some of these fabulous firsts and am not sorry one bit. They are marvelous, if not my particular cup of cocoa, and I had a splendid time reading through them. Some of these first lines, though, do belong to favorite books of mine and it was wonderful visiting them again.
For your dining pleasure, I bring you First Lines: SABGUS.
“I vaguely remember my schooldays. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.”
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams
“Tap-dancing child abuser. That’s what the Sunday New York Times from March 8, 1993, had called Viva.”
“It’s morning. For now, night is over. It’s time for the bad news. I think of the bad news as a huge bird, with the wings of a crow and the face of my Grade Four schoolteacher, sparse bun, rancid teeth, wrinkly frown, pursed mouth and all, sailing around the world under cover of darkness, pleased to be the bearer of ill tidings, carrying a basket of rotten eggs, and knowing – as the sun comes up – exactly where to drop them. On me, for one.”
“Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails’ eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.”
“A smear of fresh blood has a metallic smell. It smells like freshly sheared copper.”
A Deadly Shade of Gold by John D. MacDonald
“My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco.”
“The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall.”
“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.”
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
“My friend Patsy was telling me a story. ‘So I’m at the movie theater,’ she said, ‘and I’ve got my coat all neatly laid out against the back of my seat, when the guy comes along—’ And here I stopped her, because I’ve always wondered about this coat business. When I’m in a theater, I either fold mine in my lap or throw it over my armrest, but Patsy always spreads hers out, acting as if the seat back were cold, and she couldn’t possibly enjoy herself while it was suffering.”
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
“It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead.”
“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can’t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.”
The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
“In the world of humankind, the tides of power are turning… To me, the seasons of men go by in moments, but from time to time a flicker will attract my attention.”
Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
“On the day after my mother’s death, I returned to 83 Beals Street for the first time in fifteen years. I had stolen something from there when I was nine years old and kept it long after my reasons for holding on to it has lost their urgency.”
An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.”
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
First Lines: Picture Books
As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?