Sal Terranova and Camden Templeton are cousins separated by upbringing, the Atlantic Ocean, and a common language. Then fate (with help from a run of bad luck and a dead uncle) throws them together in the least likely of places: Texas. Exiled in this strange land, they must band together in order to save the family bookstore from financial ruin, from its own insane employees, and probably from themselves. This is the story of what happens when The Sopranos meets Fawlty a bookstore.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Opening Lines

As I undertake the seemingly never-ending task of editing my novel, I keep going back to the opening line. The opening line of a novel can set the tone for the whole book, and there are many that have become as famous as the book that contains them. This got me to thinking about some of the iconic first fines in literature.

What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of these great first lines; it is simply a few of my favorite opening sentences, almost all from novels I have actually read (this means leaving out classics like "Call me Ishmael" from Moby Dick...saw the movie, though). I have added the first line from my own novel at the end simply because I mentioned it above (and because I like the idea of being in the same list as some of these other authors). Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section:
"I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time." - Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind
"All children mythologize their birth." - Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
"Boog warned me about Washington, but until I saw the rich lady set her pugs on the dinner table, I didn’t take him seriously." – Larry McMurtry, Cadillac Jack
"Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn." – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
"People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles." – Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
"I guess by now there can't be too many people anywhere who haven't heard about Billy Clyde Puckett, the humminest sumbitch that ever carried a football." – Dan Jenkins, Semi-Tough
"I have never begun a novel with more misgiving." - W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge

"My father had a face that could stop a clock." - Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair

"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." – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

"Jude had a private collection." – Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box

"Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the right path had been lost." – Dante, Inferno (yes, I know this wasn't a novel)

"Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the more flexible V of his mouth." – Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

"A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story." – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel’s Game

"Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast table." – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

"It was a pleasure to burn." - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

"I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up." – Jack Kerouac, On The Road

"Salvatore Terranova hates to sweat, but not as much as he hates the idea of getting fat like every other man in his family." - Paul Combs, The Last Word

The Last Word is coming...stay tuned.

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