Great Opening Lines - A Challenge List

  • 1. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER by Edgar Allan Poe. Identified by jenhowel. This is the opening line that inspired this list: "During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher."
  • 2. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury. Identified by jenhowel: "It was a pleasure to burn."
  • 3. THE ILIAD by Homer. Revealed (but not identified) by Jim: "An angry man - there is my story."
  • 4. THE AENEID by Virgil. Identified by jenhowel: "I tell about war and the hero who first from Troy's frontier, displaced by destiny, came to the Lavinian shores, to Italy."
  • 5. DANTE'S INFERNO [from THE DIVINE COMEDY] by Dante Alighieri. Identified by jenhowel: "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray gone from the path direct."
  • 6. ON THE DOWNHILL SIDE by Harlan Ellison. Identified by Jim: "I knew she was a virgin because she was able to ruffle the silken mane of my unicorn."
  • 7. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G.Wells. Identified by Nadine: "No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were 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 affairs they were 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."
  • 9. NEUROMANCER by William Gibson. Identified by ender22d: "The sky above the port was the colour of television tuned to a dead channel."
  • 10. MONKEY [a.k.a. JOURNEY TO THE WEST] by Wu Cheng-en. Identified by Antihero: "There was a rock that since the creation of the world had been worked upon by the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savours of Earth, the vigour of sunshine and the grace of moonlight, till at last it became magically pregnant and one day split open, giving birth to a stone egg about as big as a playing ball."
  • 11. THE STARS MY DESTINATION [a.k.a. TIGER, TIGER] by Alfred Bester. Contirbuted by Jim, identified by bertie: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead."
  • 12. THE LONG, DARK TEATIME OF THE SOUL by Douglas Adams. Contributed by Jim, identified by Antihero: "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, 'as pretty as an airport'."
  • 13. THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Golding. Contributed by Jim, identified by Nadine: "This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."
  • 14. TOWING JEHOVAH by James Morrow. Contributed by Jim, identified by bertie after a hint from kbuxton: "The irreducible strangeness of the universe was first made manifest to Anthony Van Horne on his fiftieth birthday, when a despondent angel named Raphael, a being with luminous white wings and a halo that blinked on and off like a neon quoit, appeared and told him of the days to come."
  • 15. Rn: THE MEMOIRS OF RICHARD NIXON by Richard Nixon. Contributed by sk, identified by lbangs: "I was born in a house my father built."
  • 16. COIN LOCKER BABIES by Ryu Murakami. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by bertie after a hint: "The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthols she smoked and a bit slimy, like raw fish."
  • 17. DESOLATION ROAD by Ian McDonald. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by lbangs: "For three days Dr.Alimantando had followed the green-person across the desert."
  • 18. HOGFATHER by Terry Pratchett. Contributed by kbuxton, identifed by lbangs: "Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree."
  • 19. 1984 by George Orwell. Contributed by anonymous, identified by jenhowel: "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen."
  • 20. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess. Contributed by anonymous, identified by bertie: "What's it going to be then, eh?"
  • 21. Unidentified: "Jack was naked, and it was night, and cold." Contributed by kbuxton.
  • 22. GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by tallus: "'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, hypnotised with longing. 'Spread your lips, sweet Lil,' they'd cluck, 'and show us your choppers.''"
  • 23. THE NEW LIFE by Orhan Pamuk. Contributed by kbuxton, identifed by lbangs: "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed."
  • 24. ISLAND OF THE SEQUINED LOVE NUN by Christopher Moore. Contributed by kbuxton, identified by lbangs: "Tucker Case awoke to find himself hanging from a breadfruit tree by a coconut fiber rope."
  • 25. NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Contributed by jenhowel, identified by bertie after a hint: "I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased."
  • 26. THE LIBRARY OF BABEL by Jorge Luis Borges. Identified by kbuxton: "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings."
  • 27. RITA HAYWORTH AND SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION by Stephen King. Identified by kbuxton after a very strong hint from jenhowel: "There's a guy like me in every state and federal prison in America, I guess - I'm the guy who can get it for you."
  • 28. HYPERION by Dan Simmons. Identified by anonymous: "The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below."
  • 29. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. Identified by Jim: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
  • 30. HIGH-RISE by J.G.Ballard. Identified by tallus: "Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."
  • 31. THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENTLEMAN by Laurence Sterne. Identified by lbangs: "I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing...".
  • 32. PICTURE THIS by Joseph Heller. Contributed by Jim, identified by cmonster: "Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer thought often of Socrates while Rembrandt dressed him with paint in a white Renaissance surplice and a medieval black robe and encased him in shadows."
  • 33. THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO by Ernest Hemingway. Contributed by ender22d, identified by lbangs: "'The marvellous thing is that it's painless,' he said, 'That's how you know when it starts.'"
  • 34. THE SECRET LIFE OF SALVADOR DALI by Salvador Dali. Contributed by jenhowel, identified by bertie after a close guess by lbangs and a hint: "At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."
  • 35. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY by Arthur C.Clarke. Identified by Antihero: "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards was long since over."
Author Comments: 

All readers are challenged to identify any of the unidentified opening lines. Also, you are welcome to issue opening line challenges of your own, which might or might not be permanently added to the list, depending upon my whim. However, PLEASE NOTE:




For more about how to play see the ****SPECIAL POST**** below.

Identifications scores:

Antihero: 3

bertie: 6

bitterms: 1

cmonster: 1

ender22d: 2

jenhowel: 6

jim: 4

kbuxton: 2

lbangs: 7

Nadine: 2

PrBaron4: 1

sk: 2

tallus: 2

Let's start this off light before moving onto the real literary stuff:

"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, 'as pretty as an airport.'"

This is sheer guesswork, and probably wrong, but is it AIRPORT by (I think) Alex Haley?

Good guess, but no. So should I just blurt out the answer, or wait until somebody gets it?

No, give some other sucker a chance. Jim, it's becoming apparent to me that, even without much popularity, this list and its comments could get very big.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to it!

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

by Douglas Adams




2=Fahrenheit 451, Nice choice.
1= The fall of the House of Usher?
4 = The Aeneid?
5 = Dante's Inferno
6 and 3 = no idea

Wait, was I supposed to do that? Whoops.

Yes, that's exactly what you were supposed to do. And all your identifications are correct

Wow, translations matter. You had said #3 was from The Iliad (and I believe you). But my translation's (Robert Fagles) first sentence is:

Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,

murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,

hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,

great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,

feasts for the dogs and birds,

and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.

Whoever translated all that to "An angry man - there is my story" was kinda a slacker. :)

And here's the Fagles translation of the first line of The Odyssey:

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns

driven time and again off course, once he had plundered

the hallowed heights of Troy.

Or, "A lost man - there is my story." :)

The translation I have is by one W.H.D.Rouse - and it has its virtues, being a prose rendering rather than a poetic. But this is a problem. I guess we'd better avoid translated stuff.

Jim, lest you get the wrong idea about Rouse's rendering, I'll quote further:

"An angry man - there is my story: the bitter rancour of Achilles, prince of the house of Peleus, which brought a thousand troubles upon the Achaian host. Many a strong soul it sent down to Hades, and left the heroes themselves a prey to dogs and carrion birds, while the will of God moved on to fulfilment."

So when there's a prologue, is it's first line the first, or do we use the first line from Chapter One? Either way, here's a book where both are decent.

The prologue first line: "It was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying . . . but nobody thought so."

Chapter One, Line One: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead."

Easy-peasy, Jim. Bester's THE STARS MY DESTINATION - and a worthy addition to the list. Good question about pre-chapter versus chapter material. Either will qualify - I hereby deem - but both is a bit much. Though in this case...

Here's one for you fantasy fans:

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

Jim, this isn't THE NEVERENDING STORY, is it?

Good guess. Close, even. But alas, no.

Last one for today:

"The irreducible strangeness of the universe was first made manifest to Anthony Van Horne on his fiftieth birthday, when a despondent angel named Raphael, a being with luminous white wings and a halo that blinked on and off like a neon quoit, appeared and told him of the days to come."

Gotta love James Morrow :)

"...a a neon quoit" nice simile. Is this Morrow's TOWING JEHOVA - ? [Thanks to kbuxton if right, curses if wrong.]

Right! (and I knew kbuxton would be lured out with that one :)

I DO read things beyond Morrow of course, but many of them are more known so I feel less need to evangelize.

I've got a bunch i want to type in when I finally get some time at home. (Can't say I've memorized many).

I know you do. :) In fact, I've checked out your "read in XXXX" lists, and I'm quite jealous. With the house and the toddler, my days of setting such a breakneck reading pace are over for the forseeable future. I used to do a book or two a week. Now I'm lucky if I do one a month. Still, life is good, and my reduced literary intake was a sacrifice worth making.

Interestingly enough, there's now a book of essays about Morrow's books available. I haven't read it though.

Please let me know what you think if you check it out.

You forgot "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

It's the opening line of The Gunslinger, from the Dark Tower series, by Stephen King



Hey- Intelligence. I gave the answer away :(



And I would have gotten that one (just kidding)! I'm looking forward to being stumped next time.

I had 1,2,& 4, but I plead ignorance to the rest. How about this opening line from an autobiography: "I was born in a house my father built."

# 7 is perhaps War of the Worlds-- HG Wells-- Nadine

Congratulations, Nadine! And shame on the rest of you. I was just about to post that I couldn't believe no one had got this one yet.

I feel justly chastised. If you'll excuse me, I must go re-read my Wells.

Number 9 must be "Neuromancer" by William Gibson...a fine piece, but not as good as "Virtual Light"

"The woman pushed on the baby's stomach and sucked its penis into her mouth; it was thinner than the American menthold she smoked and a bit slimy, like raw fish."

hint: it's a Japanese author.

16 = COIN LOCKER BABIES by Ryu Murakami ?

yup :)

"For three days Dr. Alimantando had followed the green-person across the desert."

"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree."

Bertie, is a there a honor system in place for this challenge? In other words, is finding a quote via an Internet search engine considered unsporting? Should we only answer based on memory rather than research? 'Cause I can identify one of kbuxton's, but I cheated.

Also, for the contributed lines, will you only add them to the list proper if they are worthy AND identified (the case so far), or will you add worthy unidentified quotes to the list so folks don't have to root through the comments for them? You, of course, must be the sole judge of "worthy."

which one?

I found "Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree" by plugging it into Alta Vista (haven't read that one yet). And I found the author (but not title) of another by plugging in "Dr. Alimantando" (haven't read anything by him yet!). So of course, I couldn't post "answers" having come by them so shadily. Your first first line, while quite the attention-getter, continues to elude me.

yeah. that first one got my attention enough to buy and read the book. i'll hold out a few more days before giving it away though :)

Oh, and you raelly ought to read something by the author of the Dr. Alimantando one as his stuff is very very good.

I have copied the appropriate entry from this list (don't click if you don't want a big hint) to my "to read" list.

Out of print! Sigh. Off to Bibliofind.


Jim, these problems had occurred to me, but thanks for making them explicit. My philosophy of sport is that you don't really win unless you win within the rules - you might get the medal by cheating, but you haven't really won, not even if everyone thinks you have, and if you have any integrity within yourself you will come to realise that such victories are hollow. An honor system was assumed, but I guess I should make it explicit.

So how does one identify an opening line within the rules? - well, by recognizing it or by having a hunch (or following one of the challenger's hints, if any) and finding it by looking through actual paper books. Use of search engines is out, but if you used one of the library sites to confirm your hunch about a quote, that would be okay.

Now that this page has reached a certain size, I suppose I'm going to have to place all issued challenges on the list proper, at least until they are identified, or have been there for a reasonable length of time, but I reserve the right to remove any quote I deem unworthy.

Seriously though...

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

20. "'What's it going to be then, eh?'"

Your first rings a bell, but not loudly enough to awaken my memory.

Your second, although it would seem to be more difficult, I do know: it's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess.

Got any more?

"Jack was naked, and it was night, and cold."

"'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. 'Spread your lips, sweet Lil,' they'd cluck, 'and show us your choppers.''"

"I read a book one day and my whole life was changed."

"Tucker Case awoke to find himself hanging from a breadfruit tree by a coconut fiber rope."

Listen, friend, don't get me wrong: I don't mind the extra comment-score you keep racking up for me, but it isn't necessary to put each challenge in a separate post - you can put several in one if you like :-D

sorry :) I just figured it would be easier to keep any followup comments isolated.

Yes, I see your point, but why not just number them as our anonymous friend did with 19 and 20 and refer to them by number? - although (dammit!) I didn't do that - but I will in future; I think that'll work - I hope. Jeez, I had no idea this list would have so many problems attached to it.

"I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased."

Sounds like Poe to me, but that's just a fairly blind guess.

19 = 1984

I have taken the liberty of accepting this as correct. I should have got it myself, as should we all.

27 = The Shawshank Redemption but I can't remember what it was called as a book as I haven't read it. :(

This is a book and story list, not a movie list: 'fraid I can't accept movie titles as answers :=D

"Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" from Different Seasons by Stephen King.





26. "The Library of Babel" by Borges. (had a cheat a little to remember the title of the short story). Borges is great!

28. Foundation by Asimov? (I don't have it here to check for sure).

Loud annoying sound of "Wrong!" buzzer.

I *KNEW* it! When I first read #28, the word "Hegemony" made me think automatically of Speaker for the Dead, and the books that followed it. However, it seemed that if that was the case, I'd remember it, and additionally, that is definitely not Card's style of writing.

Then, this little voice in the back of my head kept saying "Hyperion," and even though I'd only read that book once a while ago, I couldn't quite shake the insistance of that assertion. Unfortunately, I was at school, and couldn't just turn to my bookshelf for confimation.

Finally, I'm home, and sure enough, there's the quote on the first page :) So the answer is: "Hyperion, by Dan Simmons."

It's really embarassing to have gotten it wrong, and then found out I've indeed read and really liked the book. Ah well.

Sir Bertie . . . I would vote to move the hints and answers right next to each corresponding item. I do a lot of scrolling up and down now that this list has gotten so long, and I think it will make it easier to see what quotes are still in play. Just a suggestion.

Done. Good suggestion. And thanks for the promotion.

29 is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

For your guessticular pleasures: "Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer thought often of Socrates while Rembrandt dressed him with paint in a white Renaissance surplice and a medieval black robe and encased him in shadows."

[and here's the rest of chapter one, because it's so darn good]

"Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius," Plato has Socrates saying after he had swallowed his cup of poison and felt the numbing effects steal up through his groin into his torso and approach his heart. "Will you remember to pay the debt?"

Now Socrates, of course, did not owe a cock to Asclepius, the god of medicine.

And the leather merchant Asclepius, you will find written here, son of the physician Eurymynedes, was as baffled as anyone to learn of the bequest from the slave who appeared on his doorstep in the morning with a live rooster in his arms. The authorities were curious also and took him into custody for questioning. They put him to death when he continued to profess his ignorance and would not reveal the code.

Sounds fascinating, and perhaps I should know it, and I WILL know it: you WILL reveal it. Ve haff vays off making you tok! (as the nazi said to the clock that would only say 'tick').

"Fascinating", but is it list-worthy?

Hint: Yossarian was probably this author's most famous character.

Helluva hint, Jim. PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST, AS AN OLD MAN by Joseph Heller ?

Right author (of course), but wrong book.

#29 is Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (Finally some "english major" opening lines.) I also thought #13 was Neverending Story, but now I believe it is the Princess Bride by William Golding.

Yup, The Princess Bride it is.

Sorry, Nadine, but Jim beat you to Jane.

BTW, would you prefer to be credited as 'Nadine' or as 'ntlr'?

Jim, have you noticed that most of the identified items are now Amazon-friendly?

It is, isn't it. Cool! (while I maintain that editorial expression should be a higher priority than trying to make the links work, I do appreciate the effort - gotta pay the bills)

Still, the results are sometimes amusing. Trying clicking on number 13, for example.

(I could fix this by trimming off leading numbers before passing the search string off to Amazon, but then, in one of life's many ironies, nobody would be able to buy 1984 :)

Any suggestions on how long I should wait before giving hints, etc on the ones I submitted that no one has gotten?

Since no one seems to have the foggiest (I know I don't), I'd start dropping hints right away.

#22 is surely Geek Love by Katherine Dunn


'... HINT: it's on this list.' which would make #30 High Rise by JG Ballard

an offering: number 32: "The marvellous thing is that it's painless," he said. "That's how you know when it starts."

a hint: think short story, think Africa

I just wanted to say that this list has succeeded in making me feel like a moron...I've only been able to pick out two on my own! None of those English classes I took have been of use here. There are obviously a lot of good books out there that I need to read :)

Oh, but worst of all, I can't stop coming back, waiting for someone to identify some of those terribly intriguing quotes. Thanks for this fabulous list!

It's very gratifying to know the list is being enjoyed. Truly, I didn't expect it to be quite this successful. (But it does require more maintenance than all my other lists put together.)

A cautionary note: keep in mind that, although many great books have great first lines, not every book with a great first line is a great book. And, obviously, two senses of 'great' are involved here: one meaning 'very enjoyable', the other meaning 'a widely recognised classic'.

Number 25 has been bugging me for quite some time. So familiar, yet so elusive. Is it Crime and Punishment? I don't have a copy here so I can't check.

Ugh. Found a copy. Wrong as rain. C&P isn't even written in the first person. Shows you how much I remember from high school.

you are so close...

25 = NOTES FROM THE UNDERGOUND by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I had a hunch on the author after Jim's guess and your reply, then I went to a library web-site and accessed the author's works.
That's how you do it, folks. All you need is a strong enough hint (hint).

Dang. I couldn't find my copy (why I keep misplacing my Dostoevsky, I have no idea).

yessirree! I'm in a Dostoevsky class this semester, and that was really the most intriguing opener to me.

"At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. ANd my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."

HINT - Apparently you guys didn't see the t.v. series based on number 10 in your neck of the world - otherwise someone would surely have got it by now. Too bad: you're missing a really wonderful Chinese experience. - HINT

Is #35 2001: A Space Oddysey?

I just happened across the movie last night, so that made me think of it. :)

My Antihero! That's it - with a small adjustment in the spelling (it took me a while to learn how to spell 'odyssey' too).

Got any challenges?

Hehe, it's that damned computer game, "Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee". It's ruined me for life on that word, much as the Dukes of Hazzard messed me up as a young man.

As far as challenges go, I've been trying for days to come up with something suitable, and have so far been unable to. Everytime I think of one I realize it's already on the list. I shall try harder though ;)

Okay, folks, I refuse to give any more hints on number 6, because you already know the author (who I can hear quietly weeping - the only thing he ever does quietly).

The author of number 8 is Brian Aldiss.

Number 10 is a gift to anyone who cares to use the TL functions Jim has provided. But let me re-state the essential hints: it's in a TL list - I've commented on it - it's Chinese.

Number 31 has been called 'the first anti-novel'. It's a fictional autobiography.

I'd vote for leaving items unidentified indefinitely (unless someone begs for the answer). Just my unsolicited $0.02.

One more thing . . . Have you looked at your comment history lately?! Noting that you've commented upon the list doesn't narrow the field all that much. :)

Explosive sigh of exasperation!!! How many lists of Chinese books have I commented on?

:) Whoops. I was daunted by the breadth of your commentary. And I couldn't imagine the TITLE of the list would give it away. Based on the list in question, and the quote, I have to guess Story of the Stone. When you credit me (if I'm right), make sure you write, "handed on a silver platter to jim."

I can't believe you fumbled the ball, Jim. I'll put it down to the lingering effects of your recent illness. Right list, wrong book. And all you had to do to get it right was scroll down and read my comment.

"O cripes, never have I seen such a moron in a first-class cabin."

I suppose laziness is an illness, but in my case it's hardly a recent affliction. :) Thanks for trying to cut me some slack, though.

I'm pulling my hair out here, Jim (and I didn't have a lot to start with). Do I have to beg you to get it right? I repeat: you got the right list but the wrong book: the answer's in my comment there at that list you went to.

Btw, I'm not familiar with that "moron in a first-class cabin" quote - where's it from?

Oh, I found the right answer (finally), but at this point it would be more humiliating than exhilarating to get it right. Let somebody else follow this trail (which is now truly a gift) and get credit for it. If nobody steps up over the next few days, I'll do it. But I'm so unworthy.

On the bright side, to make up for my recent humiliations, I have several more first lines to contribute. I'll get them up today.

As for the quote, I changed it slightly. I've contributed the real thing here.

LOL, Jim, LOL. It's big of you to give others the next few days to get it, since it's been my experience that TL is about as busy as downtown Sahara Desert on weekends. But we'll see what happens. I get the spooky feeling that nobody is following our present little exchanges (and no doubt you're hoping I'm right). Maybe the extreme narrowness of this post will attract someone's attention :-D

ooh ooh, i think i've got it!

All it took was excruciating hints and a dogged perseverance on my part! woot :)

Now if it's wrong I shall have to commit seppuku =P

Journey to the West?

Put away your blade, Antihero, you won't need it this time. What a relief - for me I mean. I'll have to be less subtle in my hints, I can see that now.

Is 31 World According to Garp or Tristan Shandy?

I checked. It's Tristan Shandy. GREAT novel.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Just what is TL, anyway?

The Listology. :)

hint time: 17 & 18 are both by British writers.

34. I know this is a Salvador Dali quote, so I'll guess The World of SD.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Title wrong but idea right. It's a memoir...

33 Man, I read too much. This is the first line for Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Another wonderful work!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs (who really needs to stop reading lists like this from the bottom up...)


24. Is this Island of the Love Nun, by whats-his-name Moore?

Sorry I can't remember more, but I remember this book having a character named Tucker Case.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs


Note to KBUXTON and LBANGS. When I went to Amazon to find the full name of the author - which you both neglected to give - I found that you both also neglected to give the book's full title. Sloppy play, guys. I expect better from such intelligent listologists :-)

23 The New Life, by Orhan Pamuk - I haven't read it yet, but I remembered this line from a review I read. Is it good?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I liked it. A somewhat unusual book though.

18. Terry Pratchett - Hogfather

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs


17 - Ian McDonald - Desolation Road

The easy quotes have a character's name in them. This sets the ol' memory bells a'tollin'!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs


15 - I remember seeing this quote attached to Richard Nixon, so I'll guess his autobiography.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Sorry if I seem to be casting an aspersion, but have you read the ****SPECIAL POST**** (it's located about half way down the comments) about how we consider the use of search engines to be cheating? If you really have read so much, and have such a good memory, I apologise for the present post.

Cast the aspersions! I read quite a bit, but no, I haven't read every book I answered to. I write, and a crushing moment arrived a few years ago when I showed my wife the first chapter of my new novel. She claimed she liked it, but that the first sentence was so dull, she doubted she would have read further if she had picked it up in a bookstore. I became curious and began collecting great first lines as an instructive exercise. Several of my responses were from that list, although I have indeed read several of the works mentioned (Hemingway, Tristan Shandy, etc.). So nope, I'm not using search engines. This contest is simply right up my alley.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I know that I do look closely at the first line. If it's not an automatic must-buy (because I like the author or whatever) I'll generally read the very beginning and see what I think. That's how I found Coin Locker Babies.

I never really considered first lines that important until my wife's comment. Frankly, some of my favorite books have rather unexciting first lines, so I hate to consider people judging books by them. However, I do realize that, unless you have already heard of the book or author, you just don't have too much to go on when considering whether or not to read a book, so I can understand using the first line as a factor. I am definitely much more interested in first lines now than I used to be.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Yes it is.

22=GEEK love, not "greek" love....i only mention this because it's one of my favorite books...

Major OOPS!!! Thanks for the correction. Freudian slip on my part. The term "Greek love" should I put it?...connotations that are closet-related, if you catch my drift. But don't draw the conclusion I can hear you drawing - you'd be wrong. Not (to echo the Seinfeld gang) that there's anything wrong with that.

A few quotes from my list:

"There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name."


(Actually from the Author's Note, but considering "The Author" is a fictional character living in the fictional world of the book, I'm counting it as part of the novel.)

"It was a bright, defrosted, pussy-willow day at the onset of spring, and the newlyweds were driving cross-country in a large roast turkey."

"I want you at the end of your rope, lashed to the mast of my dreams."

"The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the Modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they had left by the Tiber."

(Not a GREAT first line, but the first line to one of the greatest novels I've ever read...)