I wanted to do this post to share the opening paragraphs of the books which are currently strewn about my desk at the present time. Some of them I read last winter, others I read just yesterday. I thought maybe it would be interesting to show how different writers have constructed that all-important first paragraph (or, to be fair, first page or so). For this post, however, I skipped any prologues or forewards in order to get right to the story itself. (And, yes, my own book is on my desk, in both printings.)
So now, please allow me to present to you:
13 Opening Paragraphs/Pages
It makes you think of coconut-frosted cookies, maybe drugs. "A respectable life." You think subway station, suburb. Probably nothing else comes to mind. People must live there, just like they do in other places. That was why it was built, after all, so that people would have a place to live.
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist:
I leaned close to my computer so my editor wouldn't hear me on a personal call.
"Oh, nothing. Never mind. We'll talk when you get home."
"Seen what?" I asked again.
"Nothing," Samantha repeated.
"Samantha, you have never once called me in the middle of the day about nothing. Now come on. Spill."
Samantha sighed. "Okay, but remember: Don't shoot the messenger."
Now I was getting worried.
Good in Bed - Jennifer Weiner
"Buongiorno," they say before we can.
That Summer in Sicily - A Love Story - Marlena de Blasi
He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarfs on the wall of his studio, in between his platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them while he was in jail and sent them to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney almost as much as he liked molesting little kids; almost as much as he liked Jude's albums.
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Roadie - the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer - Jamie Smith
Three simple words that chilled me to the core as I accepted the phone from Joyce, the school receptionist. Point one, my mother never, ever called me at work, and point two, she'd never say she was my mother. She was always Marla -- even as a child I had never been allowed to call her Mum.
Crystal Clear - Nell Dixon
Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah
Best Friends Forever - Jennifer Weiner
Ask Me if I'm Happy - Kimberly Menozzi
Inside the Peloton - My Life as a Professional Cyclist - Nicolas Roche
Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life. I have kept up with what some people would consider my strange religious practices. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor's degree. My majors were religious study and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour--calm, quiet and introspective--did something to soothe my shattered self.
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
I have been dozing. I open my eyes.
For a moment, I don't know where I am.
Then I remember the night before, the hands on my shoulders, pushing me, shoving me, the rage and the abuse, my heart racing, my palms sweating.
And then, my guts in sudden freefall, I recognise where I am, the bare walls, the rough blanket, the hanging light bulb.
I am in a French police cell, below Biarritz town hall, in an empty basement. A smell of piss and disinfectant hangs in the air. A drunken man shouts relentlessly in a cell somewhere down the corridor.
Racing Through the Dark - David Millar
Watership Down - Richard Adams
And I'm not crazy. I know other things get your attention, too.
Shiny things. Pretty things.
Pretty, pretty things.