Famous Opening Lines
I think some of the best book openings insert the reader into an immediate point of tension. There’s drama right off the bat. I can appreciate books that provide a lot of back story, but I have to make myself be patient.
So I’m adding one section–“the opening line”–to my reviews of the 101 books. I think it’s pretty self explanatory. I’ll simply write out the book’s opening line. If my review sucks, maybe the opening line will spur you on to read more.
Since I’ll be doing this going forward, starting with my review of Gone With the Wind, I thought I’d write out the opening sentences of the four books I’ve already reviewed.
The Catcher in the Rye: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
To Kill A Mockingbird: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
Slaughterhouse Five: “All this happened, more or less.”
Lord of the Flies: “The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.”
Even though its my least favorite of the first four books I’ve read, Lord of the Flies has my favorite opening line of these first several reads. Who is the boy with fair hair? Why is he climbing down a rock? Why is a kid in a lagoon?
These are the questions I get from just reading that first sentence. I think The Catcher in the Rye has a great first sentence, too–one that provides a lot of questions and tension right away.
What’s your favorite opening line of any book?