Sometimes the first line in a novel is such a beauty it gains an identity all its own. Even if you never read Moby Dick, you can probably quote the opening line, or at least would recognize it if somebody else did.
Being someone who doesn’t always spend his time wisely, I sat round imagining what some of those first lines might have looked like in first draft. . .
“It was a dark and pleasant night. Right around 70, no humidity, easy cool breeze. Perfect sleeping weather.”
”Call me. . . Humperdink. Or Humpy. That’s what friends call me. Well, I don’t have many, but they would if I did. Lucky name for a whaler, I reckon.”
“It was the best of times, it was. . . nope, that about covers it. Historically low unemployment and crime rates, booming economy, no racism or bigotry to speak of. Pints of happiness, on the house for everyone!”
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, one way ticket to the big house. Thanks for nothing, you little brat.”
“In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Always wipe, he said. Always wipe.”
“I am an invisible man. Or The Invisible Man. Or maybe it’s Aqua Man. Whatever, I’m kind of a big deal. Unless I’m just an invisible man, in which case, never mind me.”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. And a rock-solid prenup”
“This is the saddest story I have ever heard. Well, this and the one about the old lady who rescued stray cats, only to be eaten by them after she died. Although that’s actually a little funny, so I stand by what I said—this is the saddest story.”
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. No. Hold up. Satellite’s working again. Tuned to Animal Planet. And it’s all kinds of colorful. HD too.”
“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. But then claimed she was a little short, and could someone lend her five pounds, which was so bloody like her.”