Poll

Sometimes the first line of a book just grabs you by the nostrils and drags your fool head into its pages, preventing escape in any way, shape or form. Which of these opening lines has its phalanges most firmly planted in your nasal cavities?

"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
 
  533 votes, 6.1%

"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini
 
  434 votes, 5.0%

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

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 
  424 votes, 4.9%

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
 
  416 votes, 4.8%

"It was a pleasure to burn."

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
 
  398 votes, 4.6%

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
 
  354 votes, 4.1%

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
 
  323 votes, 3.7%

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
 
  322 votes, 3.7%

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
 
  269 votes, 3.1%

"All children, except one, grow up."

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
 
  249 votes, 2.9%

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
 
  248 votes, 2.9%

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

1984 by George Orwell
 
  237 votes, 2.7%

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun."

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
 
  224 votes, 2.6%

Bah! Foolish poll-maker-person! The nostril seizing power of these paltry lines is minimal, at best! Look to the comments section where I shall carefully type out my choice, which you have so imprudently omitted!
 
  215 votes, 2.5%

"He— for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it— was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters."

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
 
  210 votes, 2.4%

"As Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
 
  210 votes, 2.4%

"All this happened, more or less."

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
 
  210 votes, 2.4%

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

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
 
  203 votes, 2.3%

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins."

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
 
  194 votes, 2.2%

“'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'”

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
 
  192 votes, 2.2%

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

The Crow Road by Iain Banks
 
  189 votes, 2.2%

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
 
  181 votes, 2.1%

"Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women."

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
 
  175 votes, 2.0%

"Mother died today."

The Stranger by Albert Camus
 
  175 votes, 2.0%

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person."

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
 
  168 votes, 1.9%

"I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man."

Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
 
  136 votes, 1.6%

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

Neuromancer by William Gibson
 
  134 votes, 1.5%

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
 
  130 votes, 1.5%

"Call me Ishmael."

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
 
  112 votes, 1.3%

"No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
 
  109 votes, 1.3%

"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim and we sat in the Korova milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening."

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
 
  102 votes, 1.2%

“'When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,' Papa would say, 'she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.'”

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
 
  102 votes, 1.2%

"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up."

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton
 
  101 votes, 1.2%

"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new."

Murphy by Samuel Beckett
 
  100 votes, 1.2%

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
 
  96 votes, 1.1%

"Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden."

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
 
  87 votes, 1.0%

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
 
  86 votes, 1.0%

"For a long time, I went to bed early."

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
 
  84 votes, 1.0%

"Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation."

Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish
 
  71 votes, 0.8%

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
 
  67 votes, 0.8%

"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 house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
 
  55 votes, 0.6%

"I have never begun a novel with more misgiving."

The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
 
  51 votes, 0.6%

"My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years"

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
 
  43 votes, 0.5%

"The moment one learns English, complications set in."

Chromos by Felipe Alfau
 
  39 votes, 0.4%

"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing."

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
 
  38 votes, 0.4%

"Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature."

The Debut by Anita Brookner
 
  34 votes, 0.4%

"When I was three and Bailey was four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed - 'To Whom It May Concern' - that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson."

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
 
  33 votes, 0.4%

"Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror."

Herbert West: Reanimator and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
 
  32 votes, 0.4%

"'Barabbas came to us by sea', the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy."

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
 
  31 votes, 0.4%

"What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?"

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino
 
  27 votes, 0.3%

"Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu."

Waiting by Ha Jin
 
  25 votes, 0.3%


Poll added by: Mark



This Poll is About

Authors:
Douglas Adams, Anne Tyler, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Ray Bradbury, Isabel Allende, John Irving, Salman Rushdie, Maya Angelou, George Orwell, David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Anthony Burgess, Dodie Smith, Virginia Woolf, Iain Banks, Ha Jin, Katherine Dunn, William Gibson, H.P. Lovecraft, Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Anita Brookner, John Wyndham, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Shannon Hale, Rafael Sabatini, Gilbert Sorrentino, James Crumley, Charles R. Johnson, Walter Abish, Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Charles Dickens, Felipe Alfau, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.D. Salinger, H.G. Wells, Albert Camus, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Samuel Beckett, Kurt Vonnegut, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, W. Somerset Maugham, J.M. Barrie, G.K. Chesterton

Books:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) Anna Karenina One Hundred Years of Solitude Pride and Prejudice Don Quixote Fahrenheit 451 A Prayer for Owen Meany Slaughterhouse-Five The Catcher in the Rye 1984 The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe) The Bell Jar The Broom of the System Lolita The War of the Worlds The House of the Spirits The Crow Road Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1) The Satanic Verses I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Geek Love Notes from Underground Orlando Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) I Capture the Castle Back When We Were Grownups The Razor's Edge Peter Pan The Stranger The Napoleon of Notting Hill 해리포터와 마법사의 돌 2 (Harry Potter #1, part 2 of 2) David Copperfield The Debut The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) A Clockwork Orange Middle Passage Waiting Book of a Thousand Days The Metamorphosis The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue, #1) The Day of the Triffids Paul Clifford Chromos Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things Scaramouche Alphabetical Africa Moby Dick. The Graveyard Book Herbert West: Reanimator and Other Stories

Comments (showing 1-50 of 225) (225 new)


message 1: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Um, Mark, could you please make your polls a little bit longer?


message 2: by Mark (last edited Jan 08, 2009 02:24PM) (new)

Mark I guess I could. But I have to admit, I kinda thought that 50 options would be more than enough to... Oh. Wait. I get it. You're using irony on me.

I see. It's come to that, has it? Didn't know I deserved irony.

:P

But, yeah... sorry about the size of it. OCDs do not a comfortable pollster make. Thanks, though, for still participating. For some reason I'm a little surprised that you went with the Kafka line. Have you always liked The Metamorphosis , and I've just been oblivious to this additional facet to your awesomeness? Or perhaps, just as the poll suggests, this is just one of your favorite attention grabbing opening lines?

As always, you remain a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, served on a bed of lettuce.




message 3: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay I have actually read the Metamorphosis in English and German. It is the only respectable book I have read in German. I can't say that I loved the book. In either language. But you can't help but be curious after the opening line, right?


message 4: by Mark (last edited Jan 08, 2009 03:33PM) (new)

Mark *Whew* Good. I was afraid that maybe you had just gotten to Franz and figured to heck with it, that was as far as you were willing to go.

You're right, of course, about it being a good attention grabber. It's interesting to me how many people I know who have had a "meh" reaction to the book as a whole. To be honest, even after the less-than-happy ending, I was a little bit jealous of Gregor. I just figured he hadn't read enough comics to really know how to deal with the situation. All he had to do was throw some tights on and-- boom!-- he's out there, fightin' crime!


message 5: by Mark (last edited Jan 09, 2009 09:06AM) (new)

Mark In an unrelated note, I just realized there are 5 of the possible 50 responses that start with "It was". If I had included the intro to A Tale of Two Cities as I had originally intended, there would have been 6.

There are 3 "There was"es, and 2 "He was"es (kinda; Ms. Woolf's has a hyphenated, almost parenthetical sorta break in it). Still...

Sorry. I just noticed is all. In other news, I only included one opener with the phrase "Once upon a time". That's kinda weird to me, especially given how much I loves me some fairy tales. Or faerie tales for all you hoity-toity celtic pagan kids out there.


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark Um.

Sorry about the "hoity-toity celtic pagan" thing.

I'll be in my office.


message 7: by Ursula (new)

Ursula I scanned to find my personal favorite, but it wasn't there, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

But I don't want to choose that last option so I'm going back to look for my second choice.


message 8: by Mark (last edited Jan 18, 2009 09:47PM) (new)

Mark Ursula, that is an awesome opening line! I have only ever heard of this book in passing, but now I feel like I need to read it.

Its going to set a dicey precident when it comes to this already too long poll, but if it's okay, I'm going to add the Meany line as one of the options. I'm pretty sure there's a button that allows you to change your vote, if you're interested. Sorry if my overwrought bombast on the last option made it feel like a non-choice.


message 9: by Ursula (new)

Ursula Now that's service! I liked your last option, and it's a viable choice, don't get me wrong. I just wanted to vote for something rather than against something, y'know?


message 10: by Mike (new)

Mike I accidentally voted as Rebecca, thanks to the handy "Keep Me Logged In" feature.

I'll let her vote as me to make the universe whole again.

My line is:

"Maybe I shouldn't have given the guy who pumped my stomach my phone number, but who cares?"

--Postcards from the Edge, by Carrie Fisher

I've never read it, but have always remembered the opening line.


message 11: by Mike (new)

Mike Lindsay wrote: "I have actually read the Metamorphosis in English and German. It is the only respectable book I have read in German. I can't say that I loved the book. In either language. But you can't help bu..."

What are the non-respectable German books you have read? Forget Kafka, that line gets my curiosity going.



message 12: by Mike (new)

Mike Mark, how about an ending line poll? 1984 has a good closing sentence. The Holy Bible is a bit anticlimactic. Just a thought. I don't have any OCD in me right now--thank you, pharmaceutical cocktail--to make the poll myself.

here's some others out there:
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid...

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/ind...



message 13: by Mark (last edited Jan 12, 2009 09:40AM) (new)

Mark Mike! It's funny how even now you've managed to vote without really having voted. You mad genius, you.

That Princess Leia line is great! I'm tempted to throw it on the poll as well, but I found out (when I added Ursula's line) that it kind of messes up folks who have already voted when one adds a new option. So much for an infinitely progressive poll. Science has failed me again!

Stupid science. (I know I'm safe to say that, because Mark W. never reads these comments. I'm going to mock Rush here, in just a second. Mwahahahaah!)

Lindsay's "non-respectable" reading made me wonder for a moment or two, as well, but I'm much too much of a gentleman to mention it.

Hee.

And I really like the idea of a closing line poll as well, but as I was looking into it, it seemed to me that closers and their respective awesomeness appear to be far more dependent upon context than openers. As a matter of fact, opening lines are so catchy because of their complete and utter lack of context. That is to say, first lines are wonderful and fun and intriguing because they open up a whole world of possiblities soon to be laid out, while closers are powerful and moving and poignant because one is now privy to all that came before.

Does that make any sense?

Also? Spoilers. I don't wanna get beaten up. Still, a very fun idea. Regardless, you are magnificent, and I love you.



message 14: by Riana (new)

Riana I probably could have gone with the Plath opening line, seeing that it's a sentence I both long to write and openly envy. But, no. I went with Proust. It's such an unassuming line that sets a tone and pace for a story that never seems to stale no matter how long he proses on.


message 15: by Mark (last edited Jan 09, 2009 02:47PM) (new)

Mark Thanks a bunch, Triple R. I just lost $10.

I was just so gosh-darn certain you were going to vote for The Bell Jar. I guess I don't know you after all. So disheartening. :P

Ah, well. I'll just give Snerkle a fiver. He doesn't really get human currency. (I know, I know. What kind of a jerk-face rips off his own boa constrictor? I am full of shame.)

But, hey! Didja catch the incredible alliteration in the Alphabetical Africa line? Man!


message 16: by Teri (new)

Teri Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The first line of Ella Enchanted:
"That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."

My niece got this book for Christmas and after reading the first few lines I decided to get it from the library as soon as I got home. It wasn't epic like most choices, but it was cute and engaging.


message 17: by Antoine (new)

Antoine Awesome poll, and really hard choices.


message 18: by Mark (last edited Jan 11, 2009 08:47PM) (new)

Mark Teri wrote: "The first line of Ella Enchanted:
"That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not in..."


Epic is in the eye of the beholder, methinks. :P Besides, if the line grabbed you, that's all you need. I've actually been meaning to read Ella Enchanted for a while, just 'cause it seemed kinda fun.

Thanks for your addition!


message 19: by Mark (last edited Jan 12, 2009 08:51AM) (new)

Mark Antoine wrote: "Awesome poll, and really hard choices."


Thanks! I was hoping you'd pop up and throw in your two cents, Antoine. I'm so glad to see you did.

It was hard to limit myself to these answers. More and more awesome lines would pop into my head as I went along.


message 20: by Mike (new)

Mike @Mark

I agree that the last line's power comes from the context of all the lines before it.

One of the links I shared was the best first and last line combo. I think that would be a good one. Some authors grab you then don't know how to end things. Like a song that repeats and fades.

A "This poll contains spoilers" would be a good feature.

Btw, 1984 has such a good last line because it's only 4 words long and says so much. I mean, what can I say in 4 words? "Mark likes dinosaurs and girls."


message 21: by Mark (new)

Mark Mike wrote: "Btw, 1984 has such a good last line because it's only 4 words long and says so much. I mean, what can I say in 4 words? "Mark likes dinosaurs and girls."

Um... that's actually five words, Michael. :P And I'm not really a scaley, so it's not terribly accurate say "Mark likes dinosaur girls". I mean, I'm sure that a lot of girl dinosaurs were every bit as neat as boy dinosaurs, even better in some regards, but I don't like them in the same way that I like human girls.

Ohh-kaayy... that is enough of that.

And you're entirely right about the books that taper off without a good, final punch. That's pretty much one of my biggest criticisms of my own work. I can create a mess just fine, thank you very much. But my ability to create a satisfying resolution? Not so much.

An "Ending Line" poll (or "Ending Lines" poll, as the case may be), still feels a little too much like a spoiler parade to me, even with a Spoiler Tag warning. My fidgety mind set would demand that I be as thorough as possible, but I'd still want a whole bunch of people to participate. Being thorough would mean I would have to list every single book that has the ending lines presented so a person would be warned before they even opened the poll. You'd have to read through this gi-normous caveat and I still might wind up blowing the ending of a book for someone, and bam, I yam left with guilt again. (Gomen nasai, Amber!)

So, while I think it'd be excellent fun to go through and put together, I think it'd have to be in some other venue, where impressionable young readers wouldn't just happen upon it and find out, say, that Moby Dick was actually Herman Melville's mother-in-law the whole time. My guilt module couldn't take that. It would asplode!



message 22: by Mike (new)

Mike I respect your desire to keep something in this world a secret. As much as I love movie trailers, some of my favorite films were seen cold. The Game, Big Trouble in Little China, etc. I wasn't looking for specific scenes to happen. I just let it unfold.

Sorry about miscounting the words. That's why I'm in Math 950.

In a way, you only need 2 words "Mark likes" everyone knows the rest. googbye.


message 23: by Mark (new)

Mark Googbye, sir! (ROTFLMHOWTTKFSMOT!)

You come correct, home-slice! I wouldn't worry about the actual word count. You're getting up to those math levels where all the numbers are imaginary. "Four" is probably a pretty primitive concept to you now.

And that could be a poll in and of itself:

Mark likes:

A. Girls
B. Dinosaurs
C. Pho'
D. Imaginary Numbers
E. Spending his free time imagining, in great detail, a world where Cheetoes™ are legal tender.

or, y'know,

F. All of the above.




message 24: by Mike (new)

Mike Mark wrote: "Googbye, sir! (ROTFLMHOWTTKFSMOT!)

You come correct, home-slice! I wouldn't worry about the actual word count. You're getting up to those math levels where all the numbers are imaginary. "Four" ..."


ROTFLMHOWTTKFSMOT is Rolling on floor laughing my head off with the tall kid filking, smiting, masticating over tomorrow??? Spill, friend, spill. Google-fu conjures nothing.

I have an imaginary number of imaginary friends.



message 25: by Mark (new)

Mark Rolling On The Floor, Laughing My Head Off Whilst Trying To Keep From Swallowing My Own Tongue.

Which, I guess, is only marginally more difficult than trying not to swallow someone else's tongue.

Or ton, if you're your aunt.


message 26: by Mike (new)

Mike thanks. now i can sleep. nice memory on "ton".

i think it would be easier to not swallow someone else's tongue cause it's typically still attached to the other person, meaning you'd have to ingest all of them to accomplish the job. but this from a guy who eats lengua street tacos.


message 27: by Paige (new)

Paige This is one of my favorite opening lines, but there are many in this poll I'm a fan of.
Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one."
Now I will go vote.


message 28: by Mark (new)

Mark Oh, man. Brother Card is never going to speak to me again.

Thanks for bringing that back to my recollection, Paige. Urgh, It's been about a million years since I've read anything Ender related. And now I've got the jones again.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

Thanks also for voting, and especially for bringing another opener to the table!


message 29: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn "Where are you going with that axe?"

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White


message 30: by Mark (new)

Mark Kat, I am not going to lie to you. That is far creepier than I remembered Charlotte's Web ever being.

Two million points for you. Thanks so much for playing!


message 31: by Sara (new)

Sara "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier


message 32: by Antoine (new)

Antoine That's a good one. Speaking of Rebecca, I have always been partial to "There was no possibility of going for a walk that day." Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.


message 33: by Mark (new)

Mark Ooooo! Rebecca! That opening line always makes me think it'd be the start of an awesome Kate Bush song. Thanks for sharing, Sara!

Jane Eyre is also a good choice, Antoine. See how hard it was to limit myself for this poll?


message 34: by Antoine (new)

Antoine Darn near impossible, I would say. But you did a fine job here, Mark.

Have you ever heard of a game called EX LIBRIS? It is a lot like Dictionary, only instead of creating and bluffing the definition of a word you don't know, you are given the title, author, and concise plot summary of a novel, and you need to come up with a plausible first or last line (depending on the flip of a coin). One of them, of course, is the real first or last line. Great game. If you don't have a deck of the cards, you can just pick out a stack of fiction and play it that way.


message 35: by Tanya (new)

Tanya "Jack Torrence thought: Officious little prick."

The Shining, obviously.


message 36: by Rachael (new)

Rachael "Marley was dead, to begin with."
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Though after reading the opening line here, I feel compelled to read Scaramouche so perhaps I should have voted for that.


message 37: by Ken-ichi (last edited Jan 18, 2009 11:41PM) (new)

Ken-ichi This poll is awesome. Makes me wish I could remember first lines...


message 38: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Good list fella, but here be the best opening line, ever...

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

By the late, great, Hunter S. Thompson.

Do love 1984 as well though.


message 39: by louisa (new)

louisa "When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

Opening line to Frances Hendry's Quest for a Maid . There are multiple others on the poll I've always liked (Neuromancer, Pride & Prejudice, Copperfield, Tolstoy, Proust, I Capture the Castle), but that still remains my all time favorite opening line.


message 40: by Lula (new)

Lula This poll would have been better if the names of the authors weren't revealed. Then I really would have voted on the quality of the first line, not because I loved that particular author, also, WAY TOO LONG! I didn't even read all of them.


message 41: by Julie (new)

Julie The first line of "Foundling" (book one of the Monster Blood Tattoo series by DM Cornish):

"Rossamund was a boy with a girl's name."




message 42: by Mark (last edited Jan 20, 2009 08:04AM) (new)

Mark Antoine wrote: "Darn near impossible, I would say. But you did a fine job here, Mark.

Have you ever heard of a game called EX LIBRIS? It is a lot like Dictionary, only instead of creating and bluffing the defi..."


Thanks, Antoine! You're very kind.

Ex Libris sounds like a game I used to play quite frequently, called Balderdash. The idea was basically the same, except you were providing plots for television shows and movies, or definitions for weird words. It sounds great. I'm going to have to look for it at Hastur's on the way home.



message 43: by Mark (new)

Mark Tanya wrote: ""Jack Torrence thought: Officious little prick."

The Shining, obviously."


Nice one. Tanya! No Stephen King on my list, either? Man, I oughta be pummeled. Thanks for your addition!




message 44: by Mark (last edited Jan 20, 2009 08:09AM) (new)

Mark Rachael wrote: ""Marley was dead, to begin with."
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Though after reading the opening line here, I feel compelled to read Scaramouche so perhaps I should have voted for that."


I was just a hair's breadth away from including this one, but... urgh. I'm very glad you brought it up! I can feel like less of a ninny, now.



message 45: by Mark (new)

Mark Ken-ichi wrote: "This poll is awesome. Makes me wish I could remember first lines..."

Thanks. I wish I had these all memorized. I do feel a little happy that I can remember that there were lines that I liked, at least. ;P



message 46: by Mark (last edited Jan 20, 2009 08:16AM) (new)

Mark Lisa wrote: "Good list fella, but here be the best opening line, ever...

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

By the late, great, Hunter S. Thompson...."


I can never think of Mr. Thompson without also thinking of Gonzo, the trumpet playing(?) muppet. I blame the Boston Globe.

And that is a great first line. (Although, you can tell how awesomely counter-culture I am when I read the words "Hunter S. Thomspon" and the first thing I think of is a muppet.)



message 47: by Mark (last edited Jan 20, 2009 08:24AM) (new)

Mark louisa wrote: ""When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

Opening line to Frances Hendry's Quest for a Maid . There are multiple others on the poll I've always liked (Neur..."


That is an excellent attention grabber, louisa. I've never even heard of Quest for a Maid. It sounds like something I need to read.




message 48: by Mark (new)

Mark Lula wrote: "This poll would have been better if the names of the authors weren't revealed. Then I really would have voted on the quality of the first line, not because I loved that particular author, also, WA..."

I kinda thought it'd be a good idea to include the title and author of the books, mostly so that folks could find them easily if something caught their eye and they wanted to give a particualr title a read.

I know the poll was pretty long, but I had to practically sit on my hands to keep from adding more. I just had too much fun making it. I'm sorry if its length was offputting to you, but I'm glad you made it as far as you did. Thanks for your considerate and thoughtful advice.


message 49: by Mark (last edited Jan 20, 2009 11:23AM) (new)

Mark Julie wrote: "The first line of "Foundling" (book one of the Monster Blood Tattoo series by DM Cornish):

"Rossamund was a boy with a girl's name."


Ha! That's so great!

And I wish my first two initials were "D.M.".




message 50: by Мила (new)

Мила Well, I voted for "Catcher in the Rye", but i want also to suggest:

ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith.
(Stranger in Strange Land by Heinlein)




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