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First lines

I love Sandra's topic of the day so much that I am going to steal it!

So, let's cosy up to the shelves, grab a few books and see what's inside:

The first image was a generic one I found on the internet: it was so gorgeous I stuck it in my post and never occurred to me that anyone would think it was mine. Here is one of my bookcases (as you can see, it's nothing so grand as the above):

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye

"On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Chronicle of a Death Foretold

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, General Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude

"I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975."
Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner

"First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say."
Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked this Way Comes

"The regular early morning yell of horror was the sound of Arthur Dent waking up and suddenly remembering where he was."
Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis

“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.”
Franz Kafka
The Trial

"'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'"
Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses

"Who is John Galt?"
Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."
Holy Bible
New Revised Standard Version

(In truth, I prefer the King James version but it doesn't technically fit my topic, being separated into multiple sentences:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.")

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce you to...the mother of all opening line cliches:

"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."
Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton
Paul Clifford

And finally, two serious contenders for the "Longest-winded First Line in History" award:

"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly consider'd how much depended upon what they were then doing;--that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;--and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost;--Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,--I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that in which the reader is likely to see me."
Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

"It was many years ago in that dark, chaotic, unfathomable pool of time before Germaine's birth (nearly twelve months before her birth), on a night in late September stirred by innumerable frenzied winds, like spirits contending with one another - mow plaintively, now angrily, now with a subtle cellolike delicacy capable of making the flesh rise on one's arms and neck - a night so sulfurous, so restless, so swollen with inarticulate longing that Leah and Gideon Bellefleur in their enormous bed quarreled once again, brought to tears because their love was too ravenous to be contained by their mere mortal bodies; and their groping, careless, anguished words were like strips or raw silk rubbed violently together (for each was convinced the other did not, could not, be equal to his love - Leah doubted that any man was capable of a love so profound it could be silent, like a forest pond; Gideon doubted that any woman was capable of comprehending the nature of a man's passion, which might tear through him, rendering him broken and exhausted, as vulnerable as a small child): it was on this tumultuous rain-lashed night that Mahalaleel came to Bellefleur Manor on the western shore of the great Lake Noir, where he was to stay for nearly five years."
Joyce Carol Oates

Comments (6)


Anne, what a great selection of opening lines! Kafka makes my skin crawl, just a bit.

And don't you just long to take a red pencil to either of your nominees for the "Longest-winded First Line in History" award!


Very nice! And I love the picture...I'd love to have bookshelves like that.

I can't even read the last two...I think my eyes crossed!

I read Salinger and Kafka at University - but I read the Bible just for fun. :)

We both did bookcase posts this week. Love yours. Two of my biggest are matching ones, seven by seven feet.

Wow! What a great bookshelf!!


Whoops, stupidly I hadn't thought of anyone thinking that gorgeous bookcase was mine. I just found it in a collection of generic photos and thought it was perfect for my topic! I've added a photo of my own overflowing bookcase. Clearly I need to get another one (well paring down my collection is not an option!)

Great topic! I decided to steal it too. As I was looking around the house, I found "it was a dark and stormy night" in "A Wrinkle in Time" (one of my favorite books when I was kid).

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