Saturday, March 1, 2008

First Lines

I love opening a book and finding a first sentence that startles me or makes me smile. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff begins with this line: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” Doesn’t that make you want to know who is speaking, why he or she has been disgraced and what happened to the monster? Templeton is modeled on Cooperstown, NY, the author’s home town. I’ve been to Cooperstown, which is on a lake - Otsego, not Glimmerglass, although the state park across the lake from Cooperstown is called Glimmerglass. There is a legend that a monster lurks in the depths!
Read this delightful interview with Lauren Groff.
Another favorite first line is this one from This is not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg: “The idea of using porn films to encourage the dairy cows to breed was a poor one.” The idea was the brainstorm of Anarbek Tashtanaliev, manager of a cheese factory that makes no cheese in a village in Kyrgyzstan. Anarbek is one of the most endearing fictional characters I have met. When Peace Corps worker Jeff Hartig is posted to Anarbek’s village, he is overwhelmed with hospitality. Jeff later moves on to work in Istanbul, where Anarbek travels there to ask a favor from the American. This is a sweet and melancholy novel about cultural alienation, responsibility, compassion and good intentions gone awry.

Do you have a favorite first line? Share it by writing a comment.

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