The first sentence is arguably the most important component of any literary work, be it a short story, an essay, or a novel (or even a blog post!). The opening line gives readers insight into the writer’s voice and style while simultaneously drawing them into the story, piquing their interest and making them wonder what is going on, and, more importantly, what is going to happen next. A good opening line can make a story, just like a bad one can break it; after all, if the first sentence isn’t all that great, how likely are you to keep reading the book? Probably not all that likely.
So what are some of the best opening lines in literature, the ones that send shivers down our spines, get us excited to read? Well, I’ll tell you.
Dear readers, I have been waiting for this day for what seems like forever now, and it’s finally, *finally* here! While out running errands, I swung by the local bookstore and picked up my copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s second novel The Lowland, which came out this Tuesday. It’s been ten long years since her first novel, The Namesake, was published, and although she did publish her short story collection Unaccustomed Earth five years ago, what I’ve really been waiting for has been her next novel. While I have many favorite authors (who has only one??), Jhumpa Lahiri is and always will be in my top five for one simple reason: The Namesake made me to want to be a writer. I read it my freshman year at UC Davis, and was the reason why I took my first undergraduate creative writing workshop. To this day when I get really, really stuck on my own work I open up my copy and let Lahiri’s lyrical prose inspire me all over again.
So, moral of the story, I am super duper excited to read this and plan on wrapping up the other two novels I’m reading right now (Bridget Jones’s Diary and A Visit from the Goon Squad) so that I can sink my teeth into this one. It’s going to be a long reading weekend, dear readers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last night I was reading Bridget Jones’s Diary (yes, I’m switching back and forth between A Visit from the Goon Squad and Bridget Jones. What can I say? Sometimes you just want to read something cute and fun) and I remembered a conversation I had with a classmate once. She told me that even though she wanted to write what she dubbed “high brow literature,” she was getting to the point where she’d settle for writing what she considered “silly” stories like Bridget Jones, just so she could get her name out into the world.
This naturally led us into a long and convoluted discussion about the pros and cons of “selling out,” and this was one of the many quotes that came up during the course of that talk. A bit pessimistic, I’ll admit, though nobody could ever really say that Virginia Woolf was an optimistic, happy person; that whole suicide by drowning thing put a bit of a damper on those rumors.