I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.[1]

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.[2]

I’m pretty much f*cked. [3]

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.[4]

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.[5]

The beginning is simple to mark.[6]

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[7]

This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.[8]

But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction.[9]

If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.[10]

All this happened, more or less.[11]

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.[12]

A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses a moment of experience to look back or from which to look ahead. [13]

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap.[14]

Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father. My father liked to watch the wrestling, my mother liked to wrestle: it didn’t matter what. She was in the white corner and that was that. [15]

With everyone, I think, memories of early childhood consist of a series of visual impressions, many very clear but lacking any sense of chronology. [16]

For a long time, I went to bed early. [17]

At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin.[18]

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. [19]

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” [20]

It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.[21]

Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity. [22]

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.[23]

Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World. [24]

In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.[25]

It was the day my grandmother exploded.[26]

My suffering left me sad and gloomy.[27]

“What’s it going to be then, eh?” [28]

In case you hadn’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops. It just keeps going and going. Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? How does it decide what to say and when to say it? [29]

“To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die”.[30]

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. [31]


[1] I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

[2] A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler

[3]  The Martian by Andy Weir.

[4] The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells

[5] The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty

[6] Enduring Love, Ian McEwan

[7] The Bible

[8] Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

[9] A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolfe

[10] Choke, Chuck Palahniuk

[11] Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

[12] The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

[13]  The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

[14] The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

[15] Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

[16] The Siren And Selected Writings, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

[17] Swann’s Way from In Search Of Lost Time, Marcel Proust.

[18] The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

[19] The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

[20] Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

[21] Matilda, Roald Dahl

[22] The Year Of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

[23] 1984, George Orwell

[24]   The Origin of the Brunists by Robert Coover

[25]  A River Runs Through It by Norman Mclean

[26] The Crow Road, Iain Banks

[27]  Life of Pi, Yann Martel

[28] A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

[29] The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A Singer

[30]   The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

[31] A Certain Slant of Light, Laura Whitcomb

2 thoughts on “A Collage of First Lines from Novels.

    1. This collage just grew in an organic way when I was looking for a bit of inspiration for my weekly post and is luckily not related to my actual state of wellbeing. Just had to wok with the sentences that were offered. Thank you for coming by Hedy.


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