Saturday, September 12, 2009

Uma's Favourite First Lines

A few days back The American Book Review featured a list of the 100 Best First Lines from Novels, and I tweeted it forward fairly unthinkingly. My fellow Twitter addict and New Straits Times columnist, Umapagan, caught it and mulled it over, and now has come up with a list of titles which he feels to be glaring omissions to the list :
I was looking for a quiet place to die.

The Brooklyn Follies, by Paul Auster

I was twelve years old the first time I walked on water.

Mr. Vertigo, by Paul Auster

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

In a distant and secondhand set of dimension, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling starmists waver and part...

The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett

"They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles."

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda.

Siddharta, by Hermann Hesse

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

... and hands down, what I feel to be, the most perfectly crafted opening sentence in modern literature...

In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

Uma. :)
You can find more posts about first lines here. And please do suggest any others you feel are missing!


Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

I read that list I guess. But even this list of your friend doesn't seem to have that brilliant "The world is what it is. Men who are nothing, men who allow themselves to become nothing have no place in it." from A Bend in the River by Naipaul or "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." still this is a good one. The second and third ones are really good.

Amir Muhammad said...

They are the most expensive breasts in the world, thought Lilli as she soaped them.

- Lace 2, Shirley Conran.

Anonymous said...

Love that line, Amir! If only Conran had begun Lace with "Which one of you bitches is my mother" that'd go to one of the favourites too!

- Poppadumdum