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First Sentences December 29, 2009

Posted by Chris in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.

Ahhh, that important first sentence. It can force us to read the next sentence (or not), it can open up the entire story (or not), and it can communicate so much more than the actual words (or not). The sentences below did all that, and more, for me.

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

The White Album by Joan Didion

 Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 Cassandra Devine was not yet thirty, but she was already tired.

Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

 The center was not holding.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

 For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summer-time roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wide road led to the pharmacy.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

 It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

 This is the story of what a woman’s patience can endure, and a man’s resolution can achieve.

The Woman in White by William Wilkie Collins

 In Haddam, summer floats over tree-softened streets like a sweet lotion balm from a careless, languorous god, and the world falls in tune with its own mysterious anthems.

Independence Day by Richard Ford

 I will be her witness.

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion




1. Cassandra Jade - December 29, 2009

One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of my favourite books and it was that first sentence that grabbed my attention fully.
Thanks for sharing some interesting beginnings.

2. littlegirlwithabigpen - December 29, 2009

one of my recent favourites (though there are many!):

“Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup”
(from Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger)

Chris - January 5, 2010

I went to check out this book, but all five copies were already out, so I’m on hold. Thanks for sharing. I hope other readers send along their favorite opening lines, too.


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