Tuesday, September 22, 2009

100 Best First Lines of Novels


The editors of the American Book Review have published a list of what they say are the 100 Best First Lines of Novels. I love first lines of novels almost as much as I love first lines of short stories. The first line of a good short story hits you like a slap across the face, and then pulls you along to the conclusion. The novel is a longer form, of course, and the first line is more like an invitation to enter the world of the novel, something that piques your interest enough to make you want to spend some time in this new world.

The list from American Book Review has some classic first lines in it, and some that left me baffled. Some of the first lines are as long as a short story, and that's not my personal taste. I like the short ones, like "Call me Ishmael". Now, that's a great first line!