Lists, Reviews

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: A Top Ten List

Best opening lines.

I’m going to spare you the traditional list of best opening lines. We all know them. You’ll find this week’s list devoid of Lolita (one of the best opening lines, ever), Pride and Prejudice, Moby-Dick, Rebecca, and Charles Dickens (most people cite A Tale of Two Cities as the best, I maintain it’s A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, The Catcher and the Rye is not the most original of choices, but I couldn’t resist including it. As you may have come to expect from me, I also managed to squeeze in Stephen King and Iain M. Banks.

First Lines

Bonus: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

In no particular order (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish):

10. 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 goddamn animals?” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

9. 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 and the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Every time I think about Holden Caulfield I can’t help but think of Nirvana and the line ‘hey, wait / I’ve got a new complaint’.

8. It was the day my grandmother exploded. Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road

7. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene Admittedly I’m fonder of his non-Catholic books, but I did like the beginning of this one (and the ending is also very good).

6. It began as a mistake. Post Office by Charles Bukowski. Doesn’t it always?

5. Either forswear fucking others or the affair is over. Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth. Agreed, Mr. Roth, agreed.

4. You’ve been here before. Needful Things by Stephen King. Straight to the point, yet mysterious – I like it.

3. Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk. Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. I don’t care that Elmer Gantry was drunk, but I love that he was eloquently and lovingly drunk (as all states of drunkenness should be).

2. Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. 2001 – A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.

1. If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. This appeals to every bit of my contrary nature.

So…favorite opening lines?

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