Do you pay attention to first lines? I kind of do. Sometimes. Usually when I'm wishing I could read the book but I'm reading too many other things to make it feasible. It's like an extension of the longing glance at the bookshelf or the glancing brush of fingers on the spine. In practice, I judge a book more by the first few pages than I do the first few lines.
I thought it might be fun, however, to compare some first lines. I happen to be surrounded by a bunch of Pulitzer Prize winners (many from the giveaway I won at Ordinary Reader) and got curious. Do think it says anything about a book? Do you think that it can be used as an accurate assessment of what the book holds? I've read the first two on the list, and their first sentences definitely remind me of the writing style and story. I want to get to the others soon! Have you read any of these? What do you think?
The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2007)
"When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him."
March, Geraldine Brooks (2006)
"This is what I write to her: The clouds tonight embossed the sky."
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2005)
"I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I'm old, and you said, I don't think you're old."
The Known World, Edward P. Jones (2004)
"The evening his master died he worked again well after he ended the day for the other adults, his own wife among them, and sent them back with hunger and tiredness to their cabins."
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (2003)
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage by, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."
Empire Falls, Richard Russo (2002)
"Compared to the Whiting mansion in town, the house Charles Beaumont Whiting built a decade after his return to Maine was modest."
The Hours, Michael Cunningham (1999)
"She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather."
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, Steven Millhauser (1997)
"There once lived a man named Martin Dressler, a shopkeeper's son, who rose from modest beginnings to a height of dreamlike good fortune."
Independence Day, Richard Ford (1996)
"In Haddam, summer floats over tree-softened streets like a sweet lotion balm from a careless, languorous god, and the world falls in tune with its own mysterious anthems."