Quotable Quotes discussion

best opening lines

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message 1: by Nicole (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Nicole (nlojeda) Its creepy and smart. Read it! But not before bed if you're a weenie.

message 2: by Otis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 12 comments "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

message 3: by Otis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 12 comments "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is widely regarded as a bad move." -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Bless Douglas Adams. I hope he knew how many people he made laugh until various liquids spurted out of their noses...

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

"Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe." The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, this isn't an opening line but it's one of my favorite opening paragraphs (please excuse the cussing):

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like 'I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...' And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddam animals?"

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

message 7: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Kate (kate-schmate) | 6 comments "A screaming comes across the sky."
- Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

message 8: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Kate (kate-schmate) | 6 comments "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
- Kafka, "The Metamorphosis"

message 9: by Lavina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Lavina (lavina_l) "Franklin Fletcher dreamed of luxury in the form of tiger-skins and beautiful women." --John Collier, "Bottle Party," Fancies and Goodnights

message 10: by Gabe (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Gabe | 1 comments "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
-Tolkien The Hobbit, (of course.)

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting."
-Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

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. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

message 11: by Denta (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Denta | 1 comments "Dont wait for ideal circumstances, they never come." -Forgot the Title, sorry-

message 12: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Heather (Miss_Lord) | 12 comments An excellent closing line:
"Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is."
-The final line in Russell Banks' Continental Drift

message 13: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Kay | 8 comments Hi everyone -- newbie here just getting into the swing of things. Here's the first opening line that sprang to mind:

"Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

message 14: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Kay | 8 comments "Mr. Salteena was an elderly man of 42 and was fond of asking people to stay with him." - Daisy Ashford, The Young Visiters (sic)

message 15: by Samantha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Samantha (asteroidbuckle) | 2 comments Kate >> You beat me to that line from The Metamorphosis. That's the one I was going to use! I haven't read that book since middle school and I still remember it.

message 16: by Andygoat (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Andygoat | 2 comments "I am a sick man, I am a wicked man."
-Dostoevsky (Notes from Underground)

I know the feeling.

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, General Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
-Garcia-Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

Never, ever, ever try to build and play Macondo in The Sims.

"All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
-Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)

Not really my favorite, but it should be reckanized since it's one of the most talked about opening lines in literature.

message 17: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Heather (Miss_Lord) | 12 comments “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Oh and this must be complemented with the closing passage...it kills me it kills me it kills me -- god i loved this book:

“The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.
‘And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?’ he asked.
Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights.
‘Forever,’ he said.”

message 18: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Heather (Miss_Lord) | 12 comments another brilliant closing line:

"Ten thousand miles had been retraced, down to the final fleshly inch where he could wake and touch her, and say her name.
Many had died. But not she, not he; not yet."

-Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire

message 19: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Heather (Miss_Lord) | 12 comments ok, now i'll be more strictly a propos of the "best opening lines" category and post a great opener:

"For the sake of those involved, I will say only this: my moral, ethical, and, if not spiritual, let’s say existential coming-of-age took place in a more or less rectangular-shaped state in the Midwest – closer to the West Coast than the east by maybe one hundred miles, closer to Canada than Mexico by maybe 300 – in a town populated by approximately ninety thousand government employees, farmers, academics, insurance salesmen, assembly-line workers, antique dealers, real estate agents, girls volleyball coaches, and a whole lot of other people who, as they would tell it, just wanted to live in a peaceful place where library fines, even if you kept the book for over a year, even if you dropped the book in the bathtub and returned it looking like it had been rescued by search divers, were rarely known to exceed five dollars."
- Megan Daum, Quality of Life Report

message 20: by Carlton (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Carlton (MethuselasChild) | 5 comments 'Mother died today.' —Albert Camus The Stranger

'Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, and after that Tyler’s pushing a gun into my mouth and telling me the first step to eternal life is you have to die.'
-Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club

message 21: by Lisa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) from Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman – because this is a book of extremely well written essays about three generations of a family and their love of books & reading –

the first paragraph of the preface:

When the Irish novelist John McGahern was a child, his sisters unlaced and removed one of his shoes while he was reading. He did not stir. They placed a straw hat on his head. No response. Only when they took away the wooden chair on which he was sitting did he, as he puts it, “wake out of the book.”

message 22: by Alicia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:58AM) (new)

Alicia Vogl Saenz | 1 comments I loved this book-thank you for posting that stunning last line.

message 23: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:58AM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) MissLord - (one of) my favorites quotes is also from Love in the Time: as Dr. Urbino would say "The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast."

message 24: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) "Animals have been special to me for as long as I can remember." Cleveland Armory, Ranch of Dreams

message 25: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new)

Rindis "The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light." -Isaac Asimov, "The Last Question"

message 26: by Xio (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new)

Xio (XioJ) Stephen Crane, _The Open Boat_:

"None of them knew the color of the sky."

message 27: by Lavina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Lavina (lavina_l) "The judge, when he sent me to prison, said that I had behaved like a woman without any moral sense." --Joyce Cary, Herself Surprised

message 28: by Jodie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Jodie (jodiemill) "A scalpel is a beautiful thing."
-Tess Gerritson

message 29: by Reynetta (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Reynetta This one is just funny...

"In the old days, before the Dragon Emperor - sometimes called the Eternal Emperor by those responsible for toadying - had invested the Halls of Law with the laws which governed the Empire, angry Dragons simply ate the idiots who were stupid enough to irritate them."

--Michelle Sagara, "Cast in courtlight"

message 30: by Dennis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:10PM) (new)

Dennis maleon | 1 comments "All endings have beggings, you just don't know it at the time"

five people you meet in heaven
Mitch Albom

message 31: by Marion (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Marion | 8 comments "If I'm out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog." - Herzog, Saul Bellow

The first paragraph of If On A Winter's Night A Traveler is too amazing not to include...

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "no, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice - they wont hear you otherwise - "I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they leave you alone."

message 32: by Merrin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Merrin | 1 comments Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of magic. - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. - The Hobbit

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. - The Last Unicorn

message 33: by Tory (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:15PM) (new)

Tory | 1 comments Opening paragraph of The Girls by Lori Lansens :

“I have never looked into my sisters eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to the beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I’ve never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or a solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.”

message 34: by Tara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:15PM) (new)

Tara (snowytara) From The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri:

"Not wanting to arouse Vishnu in case he hadn't died yet, Mrs. Asrani tiptoed down to the third step above the landing on which he lived, teakettle in hand."

From The Last Song of Dusk by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi:

"On the day Anuradha Patwardhan was leaving Udaipur for Bombay to marry a man she had not even met in the twenty-one years of her existence, her mother clutched her lovely hand through the window of the black victoria and whispered: 'In this life, my darling, there is no mercy.'"

And this is a really great opening paragraph from Kung Fu High School by Ryan Gattis:

"You got the stopwatch? Good. Reset it. We'll time this. No, no, don't push that start button yet. Just wait. Now the way I hear it, it all began when Thug #1 punched Jimmy as he was walking on the road that went through the woods that Jimmy was known to walk every day after school. Well, not exactly punched Jimmy but tried, came up hard behind him and threw an awkward, crooked-wristed fist in his general direction. Completely sloppy technique--okay--now push the button."

message 35: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Erin | 1 comments "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." - Stephen King, The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger.

message 36: by Char (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Char I love, love, love that book and that movie

message 37: by Char (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Char In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

-- The Great Gatsby

message 38: by Jemima (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

Jemima | 1 comments "Call me Ishmael" - Moby Dick

message 39: by Otis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 12 comments "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

- Neuromancer by William Gibson

message 40: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) "My husband gave me a broom one Christmas. This wasn't right." Grace Paley from The Collected Stories, An Interest in Life

message 41: by Alison (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Alison O.K., I'm in too many groups as it is, but I love quotes. I can't believe this one hasn't been mentioned, unless it has been and I missed it...

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



"Scarlett O' Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."


message 42: by Melissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Melissa Sarker (haphazardkid) | 1 comments "I must be dead for there is nothing but blue snow and the furious silence of a gunshot."- Will C. Baer Kiss Me Judas

"Don't call me a fairy."-Keith Donohue The Stolen Child

"It all started one day earlier with a single silenced bullet out of nowhere."-Ted Dekker Black (book 1)

(which totally reminded me to add him to my list.)

message 43: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) John Irving:
"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

But in The World According to Garp, it is the last line that Irving wrote first: "But in the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

I don't know why, but I love this one too:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again."
-- Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

"A surging, seeting, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and hate."
-- The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

"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, J.D. Salinger

And how can we forget that master of the first line, Charles Dickens:
"Marley was dead: to begin with." -A Christmas Carol

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." - A Tale of Two Cities

"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." —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford

message 44: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Here's a great web site with first lines:

message 45: by Meaghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

Meaghan (meggilyweggily) | 1 comments "Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."

-- Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

message 46: by rivka (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

rivka "James Bolivar diGriz I arrest you on the charge-"

I was waiting for the word charge, I thought it made a nice touch that way. As he said it I pressed the button that set off the charge of black powder in the ceiling, the crossbeam buckled and the three-ton safe dropped right on top of the cop's head. He squashed very nicely, thank you.

If I recall correctly, Harrison said he wrote these lines to show what a good "hook" looked like -- with no intention of writing any more. But he succeeded so well that he wrote the rest of The Stainless Steel Rat just to find out what the backstory was. ;)

message 47: by Reid (last edited Feb 11, 2008 03:53PM) (new)

Reid (Speedreid) This book sucks, it helped to usher in all that historical fiction b.s. All they do is track down false serial killer leads in a vain attempt to crowbar in turn-of-the-century New York history, And how many times do we have to read about these people eating at the same restaurant every damn night? Carr made even Teddy Roosevelt seem like a wimp.

message 48: by Mary (new)

Mary Wright I loved this book from beginning to end!

message 49: by Jo (new)

Jo I loved this book, too. I loved reading about turn-of-the-century NYC history. I especially loved the talk abot Washington Square Park and the Lower East Side since I was living there at the time I was reading it.

message 50: by Wendy (new)

Wendy M. (wendyphd) This is a simply amazing book-- one of my favorites. I love the NYC history, and I LOVE reading about the food they're eating.

My own wish would be that Carr would write a 3rd book in the series!

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