First lines in novels can become more famous than the book. Charles Schultz’s character Snoopy never got past his first line – “It was a dark and stormy night…” Charles Dickens’ “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and Jane Austen’s “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” have been incessantly parodied and misquoted.
In honor of First Night (New Year’s Eve), here are a few more first lines from books I’ve read this year. Can you identify the book?
“It would have been nutritive gel for dinner, same as always, if I had not discovered stuck to my apartment’s front door a paper menu advertising the newly expanded delivery service of a neighborhood restaurant.” Click here for the answer.
“At the end of December 2015 winter had not yet reached Brooklyn.” Click here for Allende.
“Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society.” Click here for a little magic.
“History has failed us, but no matter.” Click here for my nominee of best book of the year.
“I’ve finished the bloody book.” Click here for the title.
“My dear friend Roz Horowitz met her new husband online dating, and Roz is three years older and fifty pounds heavier than I am, and people have said that she is generally not as well preserved, and so I thought I would try it even though I avoid going online too much.” Click here for the answer.
“The brig Henrietta having made Sandy Hook a little before the dinner hour- and having passed the Narrows about three o’clock – and then crawling to and fro, in a series of tacks infinitesimal enough to rival the calculus, across the grey sheet of the harbour of New York – until it seemed to Mr. Smith, dancing from foot to foot upon deck,, that the small mound of the city waitingg there would hover ahead in the November gloom in perpetuity, never growing closer, to the smirk of Greek Zeno – and the day being advanced to dusk by the time Henrietta at last lay anchored off Tierces Slip, with the veritable gables of the city’s veritable houses divided from him only by one hudred foot of water – and the dusk moreover being as cold and damp and dim as November can afford, as if all the world were a quarto of grey paper dampened by drizzle until in danger of crumbling imminently to Pap: – all this being true, the master of the brig pressed upon him the virtue of sleeping this one further night aboard, and pursuing his shore business in the morning.” A story of old New York