Here Are My Top Thirteen Best First Sentences in Literature:
13. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. (Paul Auster, City of Glass)
12. A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hill-side bank and runs deep and green. (John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men)
11. A screaming comes across the sky. (Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow)
10. He was born in an air-raid shelter — and his first wail was drowned by the shriek of bombs, the thunder of falling walls and the coughing chatter of machine guns raking the sky. (L Ron Hubbard, Final Blackout)
9. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. (Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche)
8. A voice comes to one in the dark. (Samuel Beckett, Company)
7. Howard Roark laughed. (Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead)
6. See the child. (Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian)
5. On an exceptionally hot evening in early July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge. (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment).
4. In lower Manhattan, there is an improbable point where Waverly Place intersects Waverly Place. (Nicolas Christopher, Veronica)
3. There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo to the hills. (Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country).
2. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. (George Eliot, Middlemarch).
1. If it made any real sense — and it doesn’t even begin to — I think I might be inclined to dedicate this account, for whatever it’s worth, especially if it’s the least bit ribald in parts, to the memory of my late, ribald stepfather, Robert Agadganian, Jr. (J.D. Salinger, De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period)
11 Responses and Counting...
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak *A book for my 9th graders*
First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.
Here’s a small fact: You are going to die.
One of my faves… A River Runs Through It, Norman MacLean
First sentence: In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.
Last sentence: I am haunted by waters.
And of course, James Joyce always has some winners!
Finally, Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 “It was a pleasure to burn”
I like those. Thank you, Maura.
And thank you for dropping by.
124 was spiteful. (Tony Morrison, Beloved)
A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. (John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces)
In the spring of that year an epidemic of rabies broke out in Ether County, Georgia. (Pete Dexter, Paris Trout)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. (Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice)
P.S. I actually would have chosen “Jasper Maskelyne was drinking a glass of razor blades when the war began.” had that been an option.
Hi Cindy! Thank you. I forgot about Confederacy of Dunces. I didn’t love the book, but I like that opening.
Thank you for dropping by.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.
(Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
“It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.” -the opening line to “It’s kind of a funny story” which was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It ended up being more about healing than suicide but it was all in all life changing; especially with such an interesting first sentence.
Thank you, Maddy. I admit I’m not familiar with that — neither the sentence nor the story — but I like it, in a melancholy sort of way.
It’s nice to meet you.
Yes, but none tops:
Andra moi ennepe Mousa polutropon
Okay, okay. Now you’re talking my language.
I have not read the book (cheating the spirit of the question), but came across below recently after Maya passed, which was on a list of best first sentences …
“When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.”
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
Creative Thought Process: Casually inform the reader that these children might not be in the best hands. Start by Fed-Ex-ing them 1,600 miles.
Maddy’s choice for first sentence is from the teen novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” – the author, Ned Vizzini, threw himself of a building in Brooklyn where his parents live last December at the age of 32 leaving behind and wife and son.
“Maddy’s choice for first sentence is from the teen novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” – the author, Ned Vizzini, threw himself of a building in Brooklyn where his parents live last December at the age of 32 leaving behind and wife and son.”
Jesus, that’s bleak.