Last night, I attended a writer's dinner at my friend Nancy's house. When each season changes, she gathers all her writer friends around her long dining room table and we enjoy comfort food, wine and writing talk.
Last night, among other things, like Cowgirl Camp and Rainbow Parties, we discussed great novel openings. We read the first sentence from Mario Puzzo's The Godfather, "Amergio Bonsera sat in New York Criminal Court number three and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her."
Frankly, the majority of us didn't feel compelled to move on.
Then we read from John Irving's, The World According to Garp. "Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater."
That got me. I wanted to know how she wounded him. And why.
We talked about what makes a great opening and I thought about my favorite. In YA circles, it's a little bit of a no-brainer, the example that's often given. But I know that in the bookstore, I read the following opening line and that line only, and then bought the book.
"It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate and a stomachache."
That's from Laurie Halse Anderson's award winning YA novel Speak.
I woke up still thinking about novel openings and since a lot of you are big readers, I'm wondering, what are some of your favorite book openings and why did they grab you?
4 years ago