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Old 12-20-2010, 09:06 PM   #1
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Great first lines

An elderly blind lady I read to and I have been working on finding the best first lines in a book. I cannot believe this, but every time I back up to insure I'm quoting correctly, I lose the line.

My friend (she's 78) came up with "call me Ishmael".

I came up with "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

No one give me poopoo for not having these exactly right; every time I go off this page to check, I lose it.

Anyway, we spent time thinking about other famous first lines, and came up with a few. Ironically, we couldn't remember the first line of the bible. One of her fundamentalist care-givers could not as well. Yes, we did find it.

Anyone else have great first lines in a book?

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Old 12-20-2010, 09:13 PM   #2
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"Once upon a time".........
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:24 PM   #3
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It was a pleasure to burn.

Followed by:

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.


The Best First Line, EVER! Fahrenheit 451, by Ray bradbury
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:33 PM   #4
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Oh, good grief! If anyone had asked me if I'd read that book I'd say I had, but reading that, if I did, it must have been a million years ago! Great answer!
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:35 PM   #5
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Oh, good grief! If anyone had asked me if I'd read that book I'd say I had, but reading that, if I did, it must have been a million years ago! Great answer!
I did that from memory, I did a speech in college on Censorship and that was my opening. I practiced it so many times, I ended up memorizing it.

If I was going to memorize a book...this is the ONE I would pick.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:19 AM   #6
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"And that was the second time I got the clap". . .
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:49 AM   #7
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"And that was the second time I got the clap". . .
Argh! I know that one....just a little hint!
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:52 PM   #8
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I can remember a few that made an impression, LOL maybe not exactly word-for-word, but close.
It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen, 1984 by George Orwell.

The sky above the port was the color of TV tuned to a dead channel, from Neuromancer by William Gibson.

Marley was dead. To begin with. A Christmas Carol by Dickens.

If I can dredge a couple more up, will post them.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:29 AM   #9
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Once upon a time, when the world was young, there was a Martian named Smith. Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:02 PM   #10
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Always liked this one and it stuck in my mind.
"I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up", from "On the Road", by Jack Kerouac
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:10 AM   #11
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It was a dark and stormy night.......

From some obscure 19th century novel, but etched into out minds by Snoopy.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:52 AM   #12
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It was a dark and stormy night.......

From some obscure 19th century novel, but etched into out minds by Snoopy.
One of the most difficult books I have ever read!

From Wikipedia:

"It was a dark and stormy night" is a phrase written by Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton at the beginning of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.[1] The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest uses the phrase as a signifier of purple prose. The original opening sentence of Paul Clifford is an example:
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.


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Old 12-23-2010, 02:50 AM   #13
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Old 12-23-2010, 05:51 AM   #14
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"T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house...." Clement Moore: A Visit from St. Nicholas
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