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BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever

Lizzie Cornish 1 07 Apr 11 - 03:20 AM
Backwoodsman 07 Apr 11 - 03:40 AM
Geoff the Duck 07 Apr 11 - 04:45 AM
Will Fly 07 Apr 11 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,CrazyEddie 07 Apr 11 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Portland Billy 07 Apr 11 - 05:23 AM
Jim McLean 07 Apr 11 - 05:34 AM
bobad 07 Apr 11 - 05:45 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Apr 11 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Patsy 07 Apr 11 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Apr 11 - 07:46 AM
fat B****rd 07 Apr 11 - 07:53 AM
SINSULL 07 Apr 11 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,HiLo 07 Apr 11 - 10:26 AM
katlaughing 07 Apr 11 - 10:39 AM
Newport Boy 07 Apr 11 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,HiLo 07 Apr 11 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Leamaneh 07 Apr 11 - 11:20 AM
Rapparee 07 Apr 11 - 11:27 AM
Ebbie 07 Apr 11 - 11:39 AM
DMcG 07 Apr 11 - 12:05 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Apr 11 - 12:43 PM
Amos 07 Apr 11 - 12:53 PM
olddude 07 Apr 11 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,999 07 Apr 11 - 01:12 PM
kendall 07 Apr 11 - 01:29 PM
Jack the Sailor 07 Apr 11 - 02:45 PM
HuwG 07 Apr 11 - 03:55 PM
Little Hawk 07 Apr 11 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 07 Apr 11 - 04:16 PM
Rapparee 07 Apr 11 - 04:20 PM
ChanteyLass 07 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM
gnu 07 Apr 11 - 07:04 PM
kendall 07 Apr 11 - 07:20 PM
SINSULL 07 Apr 11 - 07:21 PM
Bill D 07 Apr 11 - 07:58 PM
maple_leaf_boy 07 Apr 11 - 08:42 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 11 - 09:46 PM
Little Hawk 08 Apr 11 - 12:06 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Apr 11 - 12:24 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Apr 11 - 12:28 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 Apr 11 - 01:55 PM
Don Firth 08 Apr 11 - 04:50 PM
Joe_F 08 Apr 11 - 09:15 PM
Rapparee 08 Apr 11 - 10:23 PM
Mike in Brunswick 09 Apr 11 - 12:57 AM
Georgiansilver 09 Apr 11 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 09 Apr 11 - 05:48 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 09 Apr 11 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,mauvepink 09 Apr 11 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,mauvepink 09 Apr 11 - 07:17 AM
Rafflesbear 09 Apr 11 - 11:59 AM
Rapparee 09 Apr 11 - 09:20 PM
Deckman 10 Apr 11 - 02:41 PM
Lonesome EJ 10 Apr 11 - 08:44 PM
IvanB 11 Apr 11 - 05:23 AM
theleveller 11 Apr 11 - 08:08 AM
theleveller 11 Apr 11 - 08:42 AM
Nigel Parsons 11 Apr 11 - 12:27 PM
Micca 11 Apr 11 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,lefthanded guitar 11 Apr 11 - 12:38 PM
Amos 11 Apr 11 - 02:04 PM
Don Firth 11 Apr 11 - 04:16 PM
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Subject: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:20 AM

So, which is your favourite one?


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:40 AM

"last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again".
'Rebecca' - superb.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:45 AM

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way —


A tale of two cities, Charles Dickens.

I've never got around to reading the book, but as an opening half paragraph it sums up a universe...

With an opening like that you can go home happy.

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:53 AM

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me." — Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:54 AM

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.


I believe it was used as an opening line in a ctreative writing course. Most people used it to start a hoeeor/ scifi stort (the monsters have come for him at last).
But in at least one story, the knock was made by the last WOMAN on earth.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,Portland Billy
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 05:23 AM

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

The Crow Road, Iain Banks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Jim McLean
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 05:34 AM

"Mr Ben Nevis, you're as old as the hills" ... BoB Halfin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: bobad
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 05:45 AM

At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, plowing furrows, and planting seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haj' Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar.....George III was dabbing the walls of Windsor Castle with his own spittle, the Notables were botching things in France, Goya was deaf, DeQuincey a depraved preadolescent. George Bryan 'Beau' Brummell was smoothing down his first starched collar, young Ludwig van Beethoven, beetle-browed and twenty-four, was wowing them in Vienna with his Piano Concerto no.2, and Ned Rise was drinking Strip-Me-Naked with Nan Punt and Sally Sebum at the Pig & Pox Tavern in Maiden Lane.

"Water Music" - T.Coraghessan Boyle


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 06:11 AM

In the Beginning, God created...

{atheist, me, as most will know: but know quality when I read it}

~m~


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 06:44 AM

I was going to say the same for the reason that it opens up the whole of the Bible so simply 'In the Beginning, God created'


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:46 AM

Got to be:
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."
The Metamorphosis (long short story),
Franz Kafka

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: fat B****rd
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:53 AM

A chapter in David Nobbs' 'The Fall And Rise of Reginald of Reginald Perrin' starts "Here are the gum-boots you ordered, Madame"


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: SINSULL
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 08:29 AM

"Who is John Galt?" Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:26 AM

"Take my camel dear" said my aunt Doll aas she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. Rose Macaulay in the Towers of Trebizond.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:39 AM

Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.

Ahab's Wife or the Star Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund. I have never read Moby Dick and have not wanted to, still don't, but this book has a fascination which keeps me turning the pages. NOT all about Ahab. Well worth reading, imo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Newport Boy
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 10:53 AM

We've done this before and I offered:

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngorongoro hills."
Karen Blixen - Out of Africa

But I've had second thoughts:

"If Shitface asks me once more what I've done with the housekeeping, I'll cut his throat with the carving knife"
Jill Miller - Happy as a Dead Cat

It also has a good final line, after she's carried out her threat:

"He looked as happy as a dead cat."

Phil


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 11:03 AM

Oh, how could I forget L.P. Hartley, The Go Between...The Past is a forgein country, they do things differently there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,Leamaneh
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 11:20 AM

'Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.'


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Rapparee
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 11:27 AM

A few years ago, Ballyfungus was hardly on the map, it was so unimportant. It was a small market town situated on the River Fung which meandered through rich grazing country and pleasant woods into the sea at Fungusport.

                         --"The Last Chronicles of Ballyfungus" by
                            Mary Manning

Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo. Macondo era entonces una aldea de veinte casas de barro y cañabrava construidas a la orilla de un río de aguas diáfanas que se precipitaban por un lecho de piedras pulidas, blancas y enormes como huevos prehistóricos. El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para
mencionarlas había que señalarías con el dedo. Todos los años, por el mes de marzo, una familia de gitanos desarrapados plantaba su carpa cerca de la aldea, y con un grande alboroto de pitos y timbales daban a conocer los nuevos inventos. Primero llevaron el imán. Un gitano corpulento, de barba montaraz y manos de gorrión, que se presentó con el nombre de Melquiades, hizo una truculenta demostración pública de lo que él mismo llamaba la octava maravilla de los sabios
alquimistas de Macedonia. Fue de casa en casa arrastrando dos lingotes metálicos, y todo el mundo se espantó al ver que los calderos, las pailas, las tenazas y los anafes se caían de su sitio,
y las maderas crujían por la desesperación de los clavos y los tornillos tratando de desenclavarse, y aun los objetos perdidos desde hacía mucho tiempo aparecían por donde más se les había buscado, y se arrastraban en desbandada turbulenta detrás de los fierros mágicos de Melquíades. «Las cosas, tienen vida propia -pregonaba el gitano con áspero acento-, todo es cuestión de despertarles el ánima.» José Arcadio Buendía, cuya desaforada imaginación iba siempre más lejos
que el ingenio de la naturaleza, y aun más allá del milagro y la magia, pensó que era posible servirse de aquella invención inútil para desentrañar el oro de la tierra. Melquíades, que era un hombre honrado, le previno: «Para eso no sirve.» Pero José Arcadio Buendía no creía en aquel tiempo en la honradez de los gitanos, así que cambió su mulo y una partida de chivos por los dos lingotes imantados. Úrsula Iguarán, su mujer, que contaba con aquellos animales para ensanchar el desmedrado patrimonio doméstico, no consiguió disuadirlo. «Muy pronto ha de sobrarnos oro para empedrar la casa», replicó su marido. Durante varios meses se empeñó en demostrar el acierto de sus conjeturas. Exploró palmo a palmo la región, inclusive el fondo del río, arrastrando los dos lingotes de hierro y recitando en voz alta el conjuro de Melquíades. Lo único que logró desenterrar fue una armadura del siglo xv con todas sus partes soldadas por un cascote de óxido, cuyo interior tenía la resonancia hueca de un enorme calabazo lleno de piedras. Cuando José Arcadio Buendía y los cuatro hombres de su expedición lograron desarticular la armadura, encontraron dentro un esqueleto calcificado que llevaba colgado en el cuello un relicario de cobre con un rizo de mujer.


                --Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Cien años de soledad"


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Ebbie
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 11:39 AM

Is "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." too obvious? 1984, George Orwell


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: DMcG
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:05 PM

While "It was a dark and stormy night" is famous as an example of bad writing, it is probably amongst the best-known openings, even if very few people know of what! ("Paul Clifford")


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:43 PM

Kat ~~ Moby Dick itself is a chore to read right thru; but the 1st few chapters fascinate: and the beginning

"Call me Ishmael"

is a worthy candidate for this thread IMO. Surprised it hasn't appeared before.

The 'dark & stormy night', iirc, is somewhere in Lord Lytton.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Amos
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:53 PM

"I am here with the remains of her..."

Beyond the Cascade


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: olddude
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 12:57 PM

Raps version of Moby Dick


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 01:12 PM

The Peacemaker Colt has now been in production, without change in design, for a century. Buy one today and it would be indistinguishable from the one Wyatt Earp wore when he was the Marshal of Dodge City. It is the oldest hand-gun in the world, without question the most famous and, its efficiency in its designated task of maiming and killing be taken as criterion of its worth, then it is also probably the best hand-gun ever made. It is no light thing, it is true, to be wounded by some of the Peacemaker's more highly esteemed competitors, such as the Luger or Mauser: but the high-velocity, narrow-calibre, steel-cased shell from either of those just goes straight through you, leaving a small neat hole in its wake and spending the bulk of its energy on the distant landscape whereas the large and unjacketed soft-nosed lead bullet from the Colt mushrooms on impact, tearing and smashing bone and muscle and tissue as it goes and expending all its energy on you.
   In short when a Peacemaker's bullet hits you in, say, you don't curse, step into shelter, roll and light a cigarette one-handed then smartly shoot your assailant between the eyes. When a Peacemaker bullet hits your leg you fall to the ground unconscious, and if it hits the thigh-bone and you are lucky enough to survive the torn arteries and shock, then you will never walk again without crutches because a totally disintegrated femur leaves the surgeon with no option but to cut your leg off. And so I stood absolutely motionless, not breathing, for the Peacemaker Colt that had prompted this unpleasant train of thought was pointed directly at my right thigh.



That is the opening of Alistair MacLean's novel, "When Eight Bells Toll."


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: kendall
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 01:29 PM

"If I had wanted to live, I would have died." Silverlock by John Myers Myers.
and "Awake for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight... Omar Khayyam

Moby Dick is among my very favorite stories.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 02:45 PM

"A Tale of Two Cities" is the best.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: HuwG
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:55 PM

"I am going to pack my two shirts with my other socks and my best suit in the little blue cloth my mother used to tie round her hair when she did the house, and I am going from the Valley."

Richard Llewellyn, How Green was my Valley.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:10 PM

I'll also vote for "A Tale of Two Cities".


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:16 PM

"Today a rare sun of Spring."

The Ginger Man

J P Donleavy


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Rapparee
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:20 PM

"Grabbing her in his need he crushed her against his throbbing body and felt the warmth of hers respond in kind, their desires tumbling together like waves upon a storm-tossed shore. His lips approached her shell-like ear and he murmured caressingly, "What was last year's total circulation?"

             --me, from a proposed annual library report.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM

I also favor the opening line of Moby Dick, but since someone already posted it, I'll add this:

"Scarlet O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

In fact I don't like Gone with the Wind, but I do like Moby Dick. Still, the above is a great first line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: gnu
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:04 PM

"Bad dog."

From "Poached Salmon" by gnu. I am waiting until I die to publish it because fame and fortune might drive me to drink... more.

Of course, for published works, it is, hands down, "It was a dark and stormy night..." by Snoopy. Them beagles can howl... and growl... by me sowel...


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: kendall
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:20 PM

Sing oh Goddess of the anger of Achilles...The Iliad.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: SINSULL
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:21 PM

Miss Kitty, I am shocked. Moby Dick is one of my favorites. I re-read it occasionally along with Jane Austin, Trollope, Atlas Shrugged, A Prayer For Owen Meany, and a few others.
Try it, you'll like it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 07:58 PM

"It was a dark and stormy night: the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Which spawned this


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: maple_leaf_boy
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 08:42 PM

I liked the opening line from "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. That is a
good book.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 09:46 PM

"He had a gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

The opening line of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, Italian-born English author of about 70 novels, mostly historical adventure. One of his more famous characters is Captain Blood. Sabatini researched the historical backgrounds of his novels very carefully, and he integrated that history into the novels, building his plots around what was actually going on at the time.

Scaramouche, starting on the eve of the French Revolution, is one helluva novel! And, no, Scaramouche did not gallivant around in a cape and mask, brandishing a sword like Zorro. Much more subtle and grown up than that.

Hollywood made a mockery of the story in the 1952 movie with Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh (although Janet Leigh was a good bit of casting as the lovely Aline). And the shocking secret in the novel about André-Louis Moreau's true identity—which even he didn't know—is even more of a shocker than the rather limp one they tried to bung in at the end of the movie.

And—the duel scene between André-Louis and the Marquis was downright stupid. Chasing each other along the railings of theater balconies and swinging like Tarzan on velvet ropes. Hollywood at its most gawdawful!.

If you like historical adventure and intrigue, read the novel. Sabatini's writing style is a bit Victorian, but it doesn't really get in the way. No more than, say, with Charles Dickens.

By the way, a bit of trivia:   Sabatini's father was an opera singer and in his later years taught voice. He was John McCormack's teacher.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Little Hawk
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 12:06 AM

Those books sound wonderful, Don.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 12:24 PM

Edith Nesbit was a fine writer of Edwardian children's books like The Railway Children and The Treasure Seekers. The quasi-metafictional opening paragraph of the latter is worth its place on this thread, I think:

"There are things I must tell before I begin to tell about the treasure-seeking, because I have read books myself, and I know how beastly it is when a story begins, 'Alas!' said Hiledegarde with a deep sigh, 'we must look our last on the ancestral home' — and then someone else says something — and you don't know for pages where the home is, or who Hildegarde is, or anything about it. Our ancestral home is in the Lewisham Road."

Some of J G Farrell's 1970s, adult, novels start similarly by engaging the reader in his act of composition, notably The Singapore Grip: too long to quote here, but worth looking up.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 12:28 PM

And how about the great Huckleberry Finn?: "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter".

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 01:55 PM

Caldwell turned and as he turned his ankle received an arrow. The class burst into laughter.
- John Updike The Centaur


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 04:50 PM

"Those books sound wonderful, Don."

They really are, Little Hawk. Sabatini's characters were so finely drawn, even his swashbuckling pirates, that you felt like you would know them if you met them. And they all had believable motivations.

Peter Blood, for example, wasn't just a bloodthirsty pirate. He had been in the wars as a soldier and seaman, and had retired to a quiet live as a doctor. One day, he treated an injured man who was brought to his door. Then he was arrested for aiding a traitor (learning that the man he had treated was a rebel against James II), tried, and condemned to be transported to Jamaica, where he would be a slave for the rest of his life. On occasion, he was able to ply his skills as a physician there, but conditions were so bad that he and a group of other slaves took advantage of a Spanish attack on Jamaica, managed through sneaky tactics to commandeer a Spanish warship, and sailed away, free to sail the Spanish Main. After many adventures, the regime in England changes, and the infamous Captain Blood sails home as a hero.

It's a helluva good read, and in the late Thirties, it was Errol Flynn's big breakthrough movie, earning him the position of king of the swashbucklers. Plenty of broadsides fired, many sword fights, and an underlying romance, but all set against a background of true historical events. For example, the judge who condemned Blood to be transported was a real person, as were a number of the other characters in the book.

And most of Sabatini's historical novels have the same sweep and accuracy of detail, although I must say that some of them are better than others. He also did a non-fiction work, The Life of Cesare Borgia, which was fascinating. It seems Borgia and his sister Lucretia were not just bloodthirsty demons murdering people right, left, and center, although Cesare was suspected of doing a bit of that (his enemies had the habit of dying conveniently, but no one was able to actually implicate Cesare). Italy was a bickering collection of city-states and the not-yet-country was constantly being plundered by Spain, France, Austria, and others. Borgia wanted to unite the city-states into a cohesive country in its own right. And he wasn't too fastidious about how he went about it.

And Lucretia never poisoned anyone. Most of what one hears about her is pure fiction. She was considered a great beauty, was married to Alfonso d'Este, Prince of Ferrarra, was a good and faithful wife, and was a patron of the arts. The whole Borgia family got a really bad press from the Secretary of Venice. The Venetians were scared spitless of the Borgias and slandered them at every opportunity.

Which is not to say that Cesare, and his father, Giovanni Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) were Boy Scouts. Niccolo Machiavelli admired Borgia's cleverness and ruthlessness and modeled his political treatise, The Prince after Cesare Borgia.

But then, this is wandering far afield from good opening lines. Sorry. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 09:15 PM

A six-foot-tall, yellow-haired whore from Mississippi was the most successful revolutionary of the Second War.

What was the connection between the gutting of the Ministry of Education and the attempt on the life of the Chairman of the T.U.C.?

The young man walks fast by himself through the crowd that thins into the night streets; feet are tired from hours of walking; eyes greedy for warm curve of faces, answering flicker of eyes, the set of a head, the lift of a shoulder, the way hands spread and clench; blood tingles with wants; mind is a beehive of hopes buzzing and singing; muscles ache for the knowledge of jobs, for the roadmender's pick and shovel work, the fisherman's knack with the hook when he hauls on the slithery net from the rail of the lurching trawler, the swing of the bridgeman's arm as he slings down the whitehot rivet, the engineer's slow grip wise on the throttle, the dirtfarmer's use of his whole body when whoaing the mules, he yanks the plow from the furrow.

Among diverse theories of conflict -- corresponding to the diverse meanings of the word "conflict" -- a main dividing line is between those that treat conflict as a pathological state and seek its causes and treatment, and those that take conflict for granted and study the behavior associated with it.

I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood.

"All right. He's dead. Go ahead and talk to him."

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 10:23 PM

It was noon before they finished scraping Uncle Louie off the dining room table.
                  
As I left the Kenya Beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels. He followed me through the door leading the Customs, Health, and Immigration. As the door contracted behind him I killed him.

"He's a Mad Scientist and I'm his Beautiful Daughter."

There was a man named Ulf, the son of Bjalfi and of Hallbera, the daughter of Ulf the Fearless. The was the sister of Hallbjorn Half-troll from Hrafnista, the father of Ketil Haeng. Ulf was so big and strong that no man was a match for him; and he was still only a youth when he became a Viking and went raiding. His companion was Kari from Berle, a man of high birth who had the strength and courage to perform great deeds. Kari was a berserk. He and Ulf shared all they owned and were close friends.

In summer all right-minded boys built huts in the furze-hill behind the College -- little lairs whittled out of the heart of the prickly bushes, full of stumps, odd root-ends, and spikes, but since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of delight. And for the fifth summer in succession, Stalky, M'Turk, and Beetle (this was before they reached the dignity of a study) had built, like beavers, a place of retreat and meditation, where they smoked.

"'He forges a thunderbolt and hurled it at what? At the proudest blood in Europe, the Spaniard, and sent him home conquered; at the most warlike blood in Europe, the French...'"

Aw, c'mon. Try to figure out the books these belong to. One should be simple....


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Mike in Brunswick
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 12:57 AM

"Call me, Ishmael". (Note punctuation). Peter DeVries, The Vale of Laughter.

Mike


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 04:43 AM

As a few have already said "In the beginning, God created........
but as a lay book... "Whan that Aprille with his showres sote, and the drocht of Marche hath perced to the rote". Chaucers Tales in Olde Englishe...... translated roughly as When that April with its' showers came... and the drought of March pierced to the root.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 05:48 AM

Not everybody knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade; but first it is better to speak of my friendship with John Divney because it was he who first knocked old Mathers down by giving him a great blow in the neck with a special bicycle-pump which he manufactured himself out of a hollow iron bar.

Flann O'Brien - The Third Policeman.

Perfection!


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 06:03 AM

Chapter One: 'It's My Fucking Head!'


"Billy Connolly, twenty-two-year-old reluctant welder, tattered troubadour and 'See-you-Jimmy' jokester, sauntered cheerfully down Renfrew Street looking for a pint."

Taken from 'Bravemouth' by Pamela Stephenson
(the biography of her husband.)

2nd sentence:

"In his bull's-blood velvet trousers, brown leather reindeer boots with curled up toes, black-and-white-striped Tunisian duffel coat and haywire hairdo, he was quite a sight for the generally conservative folks he passed outside Woolworth;s, the dance hall and the bagpipe-maker's shop....."

:0)


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 06:59 AM

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 07:17 AM

Books: Best 100 opening lines

Lots of choice

as well as

Books: Best 100 opening lines (alternative)

mp


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Rafflesbear
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 11:59 AM

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Rapparee
Date: 09 Apr 11 - 09:20 PM

The visitor, making his way unobserved through the crowded main laboratory of The Hill, stepped up to within six feet of the back of a big Norwegian seated at an electro-optical bench. Drawing an automatic pistol, he shot the apparently unsuspecting scientist seven times, as fast as he could pull the trigger; twice through the brain, five times, closely spaced, through the spine.

                      --E. E. Smith, "First Lensman"


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Deckman
Date: 10 Apr 11 - 02:41 PM

"He had the gift of laughter, and a sense that world was mad." Scaramouch. OH DAMN ... I see that Don Firth beat me to it. Through our over 55 years of friendship, I've found that he usually has "beat me to it." Let's see ... there was Ellen, Joannie, Margaret ... oh never mind! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 10 Apr 11 - 08:44 PM

Suibhne, another cheer for The Third Policeman. Brilliant surrealism.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: IvanB
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 05:23 AM

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." - Sidney Carton from A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Ending line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 08:08 AM

For simple dramatic effect it has to be Kafka's Metamorphosis:

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

My favourite is probably Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis (more famous for Zorba the Greek). He wrote the book when suffering from a terminal illness and it is part autobiography and part fiction. It's also one of the inspirational books that people should read before they die. It begins:

"I collect my tools: sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, intellect. Night has fallen, the day's work is done. I return like a mole to my home, the ground. Not because I am tired and cannot work. I am not tired. But the sun has set."

The simple, poignant epitaph on his grave sums up his philosophy: I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 08:42 AM

Got to be:
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams ......."

Oops, apologies, Jim, just read your post above. Great minds?


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 12:27 PM

Rapparee:
Just the one springs immediately to mind: Friday by Heinlein.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Micca
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 12:35 PM

Rap, No3 is Heinleins "Number of the Beast
No 5 is Kipling " Stalky and Co"


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: GUEST,lefthanded guitar
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 12:38 PM

"When he as nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly
broken at the elbow."

It may not be the best line, but it's certainly the best book I ever read in my life. I re-read it every year; and am just about to the part where Scout makes her late entrance in the Halloween pageant in her ham costume, causing Judge Taylor to almost collapse with laughter in the school hall.

To Kill A Mockingbird.


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Amos
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 02:04 PM

Rapp's #1, concerning Uncle Louie's demise, is from Spider Robinson, "Lady Slings the Booze".


His second is Heinlein's THe Number of the Beast.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Books - Best Opening Lines Ever
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 04:16 PM

Yay, lefthanded guitar! If you can read only five books in you're lifetime, To Kill a Mockingbird has to be at the top of the list.

And the movie. A line I remember from the movie that really got through to me was when the case was over, Atticus had lost, and they were filing out of the courtroom. Scout is sitting in the balcony with a large group of people. They all rose to their feet. Then one of the older men says to Scout, "Stand up, Louise. Your Daddy's, passin'!"

Got kinda choked up. . . .

Don Firth


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