Great Openings

white rabbit

Our books are our friends. Some of our best friends come into our lives with unforgettable entrances. Here are a few of mine, in no particular order.

 Albert Camus, The Stranger

       Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday, I can't be sure.

Homer, Iliad

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 make their bodies carrion,
feast  for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving  toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood.

Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on a green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window
as if he might want to jump out of it, and next down the aisle at the other end of the car.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Call me Ishmael.

Franz Kafka, The Trial

Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.

Richard Llewellyn,  How Green Was My Valley

I am going to pack my two shirts with my other socks and my best suit in a little blue cloth my mother used to tie round her hair when she did the house, and I am going from the Valley.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

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.


A green hunting cap squeezed the top of a fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps full of large ears and uncut hair and fine bristle that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out  on either side like turn signals indicated two directions at once. Full pursed lips protruded beneath the brushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds of disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilley's supercilious blue and yellow eyes look down at the other people waiting under the clock at the D. H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress.-John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.

Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ

A cool, heavenly breeze took possession of him.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22

It was love at first sight.
        The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom

From a little after two o'clock until almost sundown of a long hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that - a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin though of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as the wind might have blow them.

Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

This morning I got a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch. I know what this means. since I go there every Sunday for dinner and today is Wednesday, it can mean only one thing: she wants to have one of her serious talks. It will be extremely grave, either a piece of bad news about her stepdaughter Kate or else a serious talk about me, about the future and what I ought to do

And a whale of an ending.... or the end of a whale.

Ahab goes down with the whale.

And of course:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.