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Old 25th Mar 2004, 10:41   #1
amner
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Default "The Mole had been working very hard all the morning...

...spring-cleaning his little home."

in an unashamedly populist frame of mind today, so a question: what's your favourite or most memorable first line?
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Old 25th Mar 2004, 10:57   #2
John Self
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Just the one! Fat chance. A selection:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.
- Patrick Suskind, Perfume

Ever since his young wife had given birth to a cat as an unexpected consequence of his experiments in sexual alchemy, and ever since his accidental invention of a novel explosive that confounded Newtonian physics by losing its force at the precise distance of two metres from the source of the blast, President Veracruz had thought of himself not only as an adept but also as an intellectual.
- Louis de Bernieres, Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord

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.
- John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
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Old 25th Mar 2004, 13:19   #3
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in the crypt of the Abbey at Hallowdene, the monks were boiling their bishop

The Bone Pedlar - Slyvian Hamilton
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Old 25th Mar 2004, 13:46   #4
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I won't pinch John's Owen Meany one, though it's one of the best I know.

These all sum up something about the atmosphere of the books, a wildly varied selection. :D

Walking up Fifth Avenue at midnight, Spofforth begins to whistle.

Walter Tevis, Mockingbird

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.

Diana Wynne-Jones, Howl's Moving Castle

My name's John Webster, and I'm on a drug.

Robert Westall, Devil on the Road

Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.

Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth

One grey morning the first snow began to fall in the Valley of the Moomins.

Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll
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Old 25th Mar 2004, 13:56   #5
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Several years ago I read a bunch of the Robert B. Parker thrillers. One of them, The Judas Goat had a chapter that started, "Two shots in the ass and I was off on the greatest adventure of my life..."

In some dim part of my brain I seem to have embedded the fact that that is supposedly a quotation from another thriller. And that it's a first line - regarded by some as the perfect first line to any pulp novel.

Any ideas where it's purloined from?

I can remember being particularly struck by the main-verb-and-object-less first line of The Mill On The Floss - "A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace." At the time it slowed me down enough to think, hey, this is going to be long, slow fun.

But, call me Ishmael, looking back now it seems a little stagey.
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Old 25th Mar 2004, 17:56   #6
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Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.

(Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon)
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Old 26th Mar 2004, 10:02   #7
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Forgot these (you're right John, rather like Skittles Sours, one just isn't enough):

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
HGW, The War of the Worlds

The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.
HGW, The Invisible Man
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Old 26th Mar 2004, 10:19   #8
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The War of the Worlds one works particularly well - perhaps, to us, only? - if you think of it in the gravelly voice of Orson Welles doing the radio series.

Where was your opening one from anyway, amner? The Mole one, I mean.

Googled for the source of wshaw's Parker line but could only find it in the context of being in the Parker book...
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Old 26th Mar 2004, 10:36   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
Googled for the source of wshaw's Parker line but could only find it in the context of being in the Parker book...
Drat. Same here.

Thanks for looking. It may just be dementia, but I could swear it's true.
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Old 26th Mar 2004, 10:38   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
Where was your opening one from anyway, amner? The Mole one, I mean.
Bzzzt The Wind In The Willows?
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