Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beginnings Of Books Can Be Magic


I love beginnings—a bright morning, a new adventure, a new love, a good book. Some of my favorite books captured me on the first page, some on the first line. It amazes me when a writer uses exquisite word phrases to create an image that is so compelling you have to keep reading even if a tornado was bearing down on you. Here are a few first lines from some books I love.

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. –Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth. –The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognized I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. –A Single Man by Chrisopher Isherwood

When I reached C Company lines, which were at the top of the hill, I paused and looked back at the camp, just coming into full view below me through the grey mist of early morning. We were leaving that day. When we marched in, three months before, the place was under snow; now the first leaves of spring were unfolding. –Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Except for the Marabar Caves—and they are twenty miles off—the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely. –A Passage To India by E.M. Forster

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. –The Road by Cormac McCarthy

On Sunday in the new church, Preacher John Roberts tells about the disciple Jesus loved whose name was also John, how at the Last Supper John lay his head tenderly on Jesus’s breast. The preacher says we do not know why the Scriptures point to the disciple, we do not know why it is mentioned particularly that Jesus loved John at this moment of the Gospels. –Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley

Sometimes in the night he dreamed about the dead—familiar faces and the other, falf-forgotten ones, fleetingly summoned up. Now as he woke, it was he imagined, an hour or more before the dawn; there would be no sound or movement for several hours.  –The Master by Colm Toibin

1 comment:

Dorien/Roger said...

Thanks for reminding us of our thirst to read by priming the pump with these great beginnings to grea books, Alan.