Sunday, November 21, 2010

Great First Lines

If a poll were taken for best first line of a novel, I am betting that Charles Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities" would be the top vote getter.  It is a pretty amazing sentence:

"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 - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

My vote, however, goes to John Irving's "A Prayer For Owen Meany".  This is one of my favorite books and it begins with this line:

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

Who can read that line and not want to read the rest of the book?

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