In this recent article from The Atlantic, writers talk about their favorite first lines. If you haven’t seen it, go take a look. Reading this piece got me thinking about first lines, and how we remember them, and what they mean to us later on when we recall them. Who can forget, for instance, the first line of CHARLOTTE’S WEB?
“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
So today I’m thinking about first lines. Call them some of the best firsts. Call them personal favorite firsts. Whatever they are, these made my list today. Do you recognize any or all of them? (answers below)
1. 124 was spiteful.
2. In those days, cheap apartments were almost impossible to find in Manhattan, so I had to move to Brooklyn.
3. Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.
4. 1801 — I have just returned from a visit to my landlord — the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with.
5. Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.
6. All of this happened while I was walking around starving in Christiania — that strange city no one escapes from until it has left its mark on him …
7. Ree Dolly stood at break of day on her cold front steps and smelled coming flurries and saw meat.
8. The small boys came early to the hanging.
9. When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, “The Devil led us to the wrong crib.”
10. It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.
1. Toni Morrison, BELOVED
2. William Styron, SOPHIE’S CHOICE
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder, LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS
4. Emily Bronte, WUTHERING HEIGHTS
5. Jack London, THE CALL OF THE WILD
6. Knut Hamsun, HUNGER
7. Daniel Woodrell, WINTER’S BONE
8. Ken Follett, PILLARS OF THE EARTH
9. Jeanette Winterson, WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL?
10. Diana Gabaldon, OUTLANDER
What are some of your favorite first lines?