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What is the best first sentence of any novel you've read?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma ~ Eartha Kitt.
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Some novels have such an amazing first sentence that pull you right into the story or tell you straight away that you are going to like the book. What's the best opening sentence you've ever read?


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So far nothing has topped:

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

- from Hunter S Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". I like a first sentence that immediately makes you ask "And then what happened?"
The one that leaps straight to mind is from William Gibson's Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel."

It's interesting also as a historical artefact - my kids probably wouldn't understand that it means a dirty, ash-filled mess. Due to digital delivery, these days a television tuned to a dead channel shows a bright, cheerful blue.
It might sound cliché, but I find it hard to go past Jane Austen's opening for Pride and Prejudice.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

So much more to that sentence than it seems on the surface, and it sets the tone for the whole book. A classic.
I like 'Once upon a time'

No I'm not being (funny).
I just like it, kind of a twisted version of something more original.
Very fond of the opening to M. T. Anderson's Feed "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck,"
That makes me want to read it.
Anyone know where "It was a dark and stormy night" comes from???
Comes from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford. Here is the whole opening sentence:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Makes me want to read the whole book.
Thanks, Sarah Bell.
by grann
I love that ''It was a dark and stormy night''.

That alone would get me in.
by jonaj
I just picked up The Street Sweeper for Bookclub (Perlman) and it opens with "Memory is a wilful dog. It won't be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you." That's quite lovely...
This is a very interesting question. Most times when I buy books I'd like to keep with me for a long long time, the 1st and last lines of a book are what impact my decision to buy because they give me a hint of the content within.

The best I remember is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". It's first line is "We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing about the world." and the last line is "If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we would know the mind of God"
Go to page 69 instead, when looking....I have been told it works, as far as finding 'if' you will like the book or not?
by jonaj
'Tale of Two Cities' & 'Rebecca', both hauntingly pre-emptors of what was to eventually come to pass.
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