Last week, I chose 10 books at random from my bookshelves and wrote their first sentences. This week, I selected 10 books whose first sentences hooked me. Like I said last week, some I’d read, some not. Some I liked, some not.
I’ll deconstruct the first sentences as to why they hooked me. My comments are in italics.
Regarding the death of James Bradley Stomarti: what first catches my attention is his age.—Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen Now I need to know why the age is of importance.
I’m in a car park in Leeds when I tell my husband I don’t want to be married to him anymore.—How to be Good by Nick Hornby It’s the passivity of the writing that hooked me, because it’s contrary to the scene.
I’m thinking of asking the servants to wax my change before placing it in the Chinese tank I keep on my dresser.—Naked by David Sedaris When a humor author grabs you by the throat with humor in the very first sentence, you know it won’t disappoint.
There was nobody there to meet him.—The Outcast by Sadie Jones Why not? I already care and it’s one sentence into the story
When I was a little girl I used to dress Barbie up without underpants.—High Five by Janet Evanovich Same reason I gave for David Sedaris. Janet will make me laugh. She just promised in the first sentence.
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 I love this opening. He’s so casual about mentioning his mother’s death and the boy who caused it, yet it’s huge. In fact, this book is so good, I’ve read it twice—I never do that.
In the hospital of the orphanage—the boys’ division at St. Cloud’s, Maine—two nurses were in charge of naming the new babies and checking that their little penises were healing from the obligatory circumcision.—Cider House Rules by John Irving Action and setting: all there in one sentence.
In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game.—Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult This is a nice set up. You know something else—not so innocent—will be happening in the span of nineteen minutes.
The last two below were in last week’s random picks post. I happened to like these two openings so they get another mention.
They were both working their final shift at Blackjack Pizza that night, although nobody but the two of them realized it was that.—The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb I love the foreshadowing
I am a cheerful man, even in the dark, and it’s all thanks to a good Lutheran mother.— Wobegon Boy by Garrison Keillor Again, that thing about humor. This says I’m in for a good time. It’s my favorite opening of all that I have on my bookshelves. It shows you I’m partial to humor.
Do you have any favorites you’d like to share? What of these?