Book Beginnings

If a book starts out just right, I’ll keep going back and rereading the first few sentences long after I’ve finished the book. Here are a few that did that to me.

Fagles’ translation of the Odyssey:

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.

Gravity’s Rainbow:

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

Blood Meridian:

See the child. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. Outside lie dark turned fields with rags of snow and darker woods beyond that harbor yet a few last wolves.

I think the last one is my favorite.

2 responses to “Book Beginnings”

  1. The greatest beginning I know of is that of David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life:

    “It is the desolateness of this place which day after day fills my mind with its perspectives.”

    The story is that of the poet Ovid in his exile, living amongst barbarians on the edge of the known world, without latin, poetry, art or philosophy. The book explores Malouf’s ideas of language, the mind, the relationship between Man and the natural world, and much more. A complex work but one of real genius.