Books with fabulous first lines

“I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.”
Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

“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.”
Catcher In the Rye, JD Salinger

“riverrun, past Eve and Adams, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth, Castle and Environs.”
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce

“Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.”
– The Debut, Anita Brookner

“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.”
Herzog, Saul Bellow

“Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden.”
The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace

“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

“A screaming comes across the sky.”
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

“For a long time, I went to bed early.”
Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust

“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;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.”
Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”
Murphy, Samuel Beckett

“All this happened, more or less.”
– Slaughterhouse-Five,  Kurt Vonnegut

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

“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
Middlemarch, George Eliot

“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.”
City of Glass, Paul Auster

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About the anti-laugh

This blog is a shamelessly random collection of cool things, rants and nonsense. View all posts by the anti-laugh

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