first bites

This is not a real blog entry. I am still busy a) finishing up my YA novel STRANGER and getting it off to my agent, which should happen in just a couple of hours now and b) still recovering from a sleepless hedonistic weekend in South Beach that involved spilling out of clubs into dazzling morning light, which at my ripening age of nearly-33 hasn’t happened in many a moon, and c) still processing my visit to New York and mentally organizing it into what will hopefully become the kind of real blog entries that this, as I have already mentioned, is not.

This is a kind of experiment. I have pulled books from my bookcases completely at random, with the intention of setting down the first sentence from each. I’m not completely sure why I wish to do this. Perhaps because I am finishing up one book and about to start the new draft of another, opening sentences are on my mind more than usual. But take a gander (that expression is so hilarious — ‘take a gander’) at what’s below, and let me know what you think — sentences that work for you, books you’d be most likely to try, any thoughts you might have and off-the-top-of-your-head conclusions you might draw about openings in general, etc.

And if you know of any opening sentences that you absolutely love — or absolutely hate — by all means, please add them to the list.

Yesterday, I found Violet’s letters to Bill. — WHAT I LOVED, Siri Hustvedt

After setting fire to Harold Kershaw, Aural decided it was wise to leave town, the better part of a display of independence being the surviving of it. — INTO THE FIRE, David Wiltse

The patrol rode his quarterhorse over land that looked like the sea, the night-vision goggles turning the 2 a.m. desert green, a dream of liquid hills and shifting sands, tumbleweeds, arroyos, dried riverbeds. — BORDER DOGS, Karen Palmer

My name is Kathy H. — Kazuo Ishiguro, NEVER LET ME GO

When I got there, Joe Durkin was already holding down a corner table and working on a drink — vodka on the rocks, from the looks of it. — ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING, Lawrence Block

I do not know exactly how Edith Lavery came first to be taken up by Isabel Easton. — SNOBS, Julian Fellowes

Minutes after the shootings, everybody’s cell phone rang. — AFTER, Francine Prose

Days started in Brooklyn with bright, compromised light. — THE MISSING PERSON, Alix Ohlin

I am standing at the side of the highway, which is a good place because it is nowhere. — A CARNIVORE’S INQUIRY, Sabina Murray

In another month the New Orleans lakefront would stink of fish, filth, and boat fuel, but right now it was a softly gorgeous spring day on Lakeshore Drive. — PRIME, Poppy Z. Brite

On the whole, we’re a murderous race. — DEAD BEAT, Jim Butcher

Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. — JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, Susanna Clarke

When I was a tiny boy I often sat motionless in the garden, bathed in sunshine, hands flat on the rough brick of the garden path, waiting with a prolonged, almost painful expectation for whatever would happen, whatever event was contained by that moment, whatever revelation lay dormant in it. — THE COURSE OF THE HEART, M. John Harrison

A few years ago a psychopath burned down my house. — THERAPY, Jonathan Kellerman

I thought I’d been to Africa. — SMALL ISLAND, Andrea Levy

Kate Iverson stared out the window of a hurtling taxi and wondered where she was. — HOSTS, F. Paul Wilson

Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear. — THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, Philip Roth

She perches on the rim of the monstrous porcelain bathtub and slaps the crook of her Auschwitz-thin arm, trying to raise one pastel green subcutaneous thoroughfare. — WASTED BEAUTY, Eric Bogosian

Jedra Abdullah has no one. — THE SEA OF TEARS, Nani Power

The storm came up out of the southwest like a fiend, stalking its prey on legs of lightning. — ABARAT, Clive Barker

“…Soon the ‘Iwa bird will fly. — SONG OF THE EXILE, Kiana Davenport


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