Great Firsts



I came across this Buzzfeed article on Twitter (I know—social, social) and just had to share. It lists readers’ favorite sentences in literature. It led me to think about first lines; there are so many great ones. I’ll add one of my favorites here:


I’m doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.


John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany


What’s yours?



2 thoughts on “Great Firsts

  1. I love that one from Owen Meany too. Here’s another that sticks with you — from One Hundred Years of Solitude:

    “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”

    You were probably just looking for a one-liner but copy-paste makes it hard to resist grabbing more. Want even more? Here you go:

    Sending all good wishes to you, Mimi!

  2. What a great idea, Mimi! You inspired me. Here are four of my favorites:

    “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamned animals?”
    –Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

    “The blaze of sun wrung pops of sweat from the old man’s brow, yet he cupped his hands around the glass of hot sweet tea as if to warm them. He could not shake the premonition. It clung to his back like chill wet leaves.
    “The dig was over. The tell had been sifted, stratum by stratum, its entrails examined, tagged and shipped: the beads and pendants; glyptics; phalli; ground-stone mortars stained with ocher; burnished pots. Nothing exceptional. An Assyrian ivory toilet box. And man. The bones of man. The brittle remnants of cosmic torment that once made him wonder if matter was Lucifer upward-groping back to his God. And yet now he knew better.”
    –The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

    “Suppose you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, ‘That afternoon when I met so-and-so…was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.’ I expect you might put down your teacup and say, ‘Well, now, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can’t possibly have been both!’ Ordinarily I’d have to laugh at myself and agree with you. But the truth is that the afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and the worst of my life. He seemed so fascinating to me, even the fish smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. if I had never known him, I’m sure I would not have become a geisha.”
    –Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

    “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
    –Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

    And just for fun:

    “Opening statement of Mr. Harold Schoff, attorney for Mr. Coyote: My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and continuous states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company, manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise. Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions he has purchased of the Acme Company, through that company’s mail-order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labeling. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in his profession of predator.”
    –Coyote v. Acme by Ian Frazier

Tell me, tell me.