Opening Lines of Novels

Below are some opening lines in novels written in 2006 and collected by Dave Eggers in his 2007  book The Best Non-Required Reading.”

That 1901 winter when the wife and her husband were still new to Washington, there came to the wife like a scent carried on the wind some word that wolves roamed the streets and roads of the city after sundown (Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar’s Children)

He came up with the names.  (Colsen Whitehead, Aphex Hides the Hurt)

At the close of the workday on Thursday the twenty-fourth of January, 1822, Prue Winship sat down at the large desk in the countinghouse of Winship Daughters Gin to write a letter to her daughter, Recompense. (Emily Barton, Brookland)

I was not meant to be a dissident.  (Nell Freudenberger, The Dissident)

It is easy for a life to become unblessed. (Dana Spiota, Eat the Document)

It was Joseph Brodsky, the one person who had never caused any trouble, who did not want his daughter to marry David Bloom.  (Jennifer Gilmore, Golden Country)

When he looks at his hand, he sees the hand he remembers- ropy branching veins, a ridge of waxy skin on the inside of the wrist where he fumbled a glowing iron rod at his father’s forge one afternoon in 1966.  (David Long, The Inhabited World)

The castle was falling apart, but at 2 A.M. under a useless moon, Danny couldn’t see this.  (Jennifer Egan, The Keep)

He was lost.  (Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn)

She dreamt that it rained and she could not go out to meet him as planned.  (Leila Aboulela, The Translator)

The following might have happened on a late-fall afternoon in the Boston suburb of West Salem. (Heidi Julavits, The Uses of Enchantment)


1 Comment

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One response to “Opening Lines of Novels

  1. You need to check out the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest:

    “Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

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