curieuse: (Autumn 2)
[personal profile] curieuse
If I had to pick, for pure simplicity, mine would probably be: 

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.
- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

There's just something really pure and true and American about it to me.

What are yours? I'm studying for the Lit GRE and this kind of crap randomly appears -- help me out! 

PS - Here's a link to the American Book Review's top 100. The one I picked is #44.

Date: 2009-10-14 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From "The Bell Jar":

"It was a queer sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

Date: 2009-10-14 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And looking at that list I was pleased Plath was on it, but all my good will was squandered when I saw that she was #44 and Thomas Pynchon was near the top. Oh well.

Date: 2009-10-14 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've only read 10 of those ... D:

Did Absalom, Absalom! start with the description of the wisteria, or was that later in the first chapter? I can't remember, but I always really liked that.

Date: 2009-10-14 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOVE that line.

I haven't finished reading that list, but I posted this on Facebook months ago when a friend asked me to share some of my favorite first lines. These were the first that came to me:

"When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta." -- from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

"Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway. At 0627 hours on January 1, 1975, Alfred Archibald Jones was dressed in corduroy and sat in a fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate facedown on the steering wheel, hoping the judgment would not be too heavy upon him." -- from White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." -- from Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

"My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call." -- from The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy (probably my FAVORITE book, if I had to choose just one. Which I can't. BUT IF I DID.)

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." -- from One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Date: 2009-10-14 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I honestly can't think of any that float my fancy right now. "124 was a spiteful number" always makes me feel uneasy, though. I think that's the point.

I'm going to have to think about this.

Date: 2009-10-14 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

When I saw your facebook post, I immediately thought this line from TEWWG.

Date: 2009-10-14 06:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
that is a lovely first line.

Date: 2009-10-14 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't really like to have favourite first lines (or favourite quotations), but I do like this one:

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.

It does a neat job of encapsulating so much of what is to come.

There's always this old chestnut too:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.

Oh! and how could I forget:

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
Edited Date: 2009-10-14 08:56 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-10-14 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mine is "All beginnings are hard." -In The Beginning by Chaim Potok.

#95 on that list is ridiculous. :-p

Date: 2009-10-14 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."

It's not the line itself; it's the entire book, which I know comes immediately after that line.

Date: 2009-10-15 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My favorite line from Their Eyes is not the opening one, but opens one of the chapters:

"There are years that ask questions, and years that answer."

Zora's wisdom has gotten me through many a rough day.

Date: 2009-10-21 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the line you've chosen is the best. I don't think it exclusively american. It is a feeling people have had since loved ones first ventured off and it is a feeling people experience to this day.

It's isn't a great first line, it is a great insight into humans.
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