Lori's Book Nook

Famous First Lines

Posted on: December 6, 2006

Here’s an interesting list…the 100 Best First Lines of Novels

No. 47 is one of my favourites:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

(Quick! Name the book!)

It would make a great quiz.

Some are just intriguing:

No. 49:

It was the day my grandmother exploded.

Hello?! Why haven’t I read this one? Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road.

I could go on.

Let me know your favourites in the comments.

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3 Responses to "Famous First Lines"

Pleased to meet you, Lori. I am one of your spousal person’s disreputable acquaintances, Ærchie. I have taken the liberty of quoting this post on my own unworthy blog and turning the whole thing into a “First Sentence Meme”.

We could fill a book with great gripping opening paragraphs! But, if it’s great opening lines you want, they don’t always come from the same books.

Here are three I find particularly fine.

1.) Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.
–Henry Miller. Tropic of Capricorn

2.) The huge black clock hand is still at rest but is on the point of making its once-a-minute gesture; that resilient jolt will set a whole world in motion.
–Vladimir Nabokov. King, Queen Knave

3.) The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.
–V.S. Naipaul. A Bend in the River

Oh, thanks David…good quotes. And you’re a man who has to pay attention to those opening words (esp. if you only give yourself 299!).

And Archie — mercy bien. Enjoy the meme.

Now I have to go back to my books, to see what jumps out at me. I’m not really a noticer of first lines myself. I usually jump headlong into a text without pausing to consider the first words — unless they are truly special. Maybe I should slow down.

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