46 Great Opening Lines: 46

This is it, 46 of 46. More importantly, together with the 54 Great Opening Lines I posted a couple of years ago (click on ‘categories’ to go there), now there are a hundred all together. This last opener is from my (unpublished) translation of a book of short stories. Here today in Canberra it’s mid-winter,… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 45

The thousand arms of the forest were grey, and its million fingers silver. First line, ‘The Sign of the Broken Sword’, G.K. Chesterton, 1911 G.K. Chesterton wrote 53 stories about a very short priest with ‘a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling’. Many of them have intriguing opening lines, but I particularly… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 44

The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Opening line, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, 1968 I’ve seen the movie, and have read Part One of the six parts of the book. The opening line was nothing like I expected. So… Continue reading


Life Sentence and The Blue Cross

Today I was thrilled to receive ten copies of a small bilingual book of two short stories, Life Sentence and The Blue Cross, my translations of Condamné à perpétuité and La Croix bleue by the New Caledonian author, Claudine Jacques. Life Sentence was published last year in Southerly Journal (Sydney University), and now it’s available… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 43

It was a pleasure to burn. First line, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1954 I’ve been reading it for the past few days, and just finished. In case you’re wondering about the title, Bradbury offers an explanatory epigraph: FAHRENHEIT 451: the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns As for the first line of the… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 42

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld my man completed; with an anxiety that almost amounted to agony I collected instruments of life around me that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. First line of Chapter 7th, Frankenstein (draft), Mary Shelley,… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 41

Seventeen weeks after they moved to the city, Sofia stole her boyfriend’s mouth. Opening line, ‘Magpie’, Mikaella Clements, in Overland, Issue 227, Winter 2017 This is the kind of opener I can’t look away from. What on earth is Sofia doing? Reading through the story I learn that Sofia wished she could speak German like… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 40

It’s pre-dawn, all dark. Breeding season. First words of ‘Breeding Season’, Amanda Niehaus, in Overland, Spring 2017 I’ve been buying literary journals for a couple of years now, reading short stories to see how writers write in the 21st century. My translations are mostly of 19th-century stories, so I need to prompt myself to read today’s… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 39

What was known of Captain Hagberd in the little seaport of Colebrook was not exactly in his favour. First line of To-morrow, Joseph Conrad, 1902 The story of a man who is quietly going mad waiting for his son to return, convinced he will turn up tomorrow, has an opening line promising an unsavoury old… Continue reading


Tears on the Sword

The Agorist Writers Workshop has just announced the titles of stories for their new anthology, Fairytale Riot. I’m very fortunate to have one of my translations included, “Tears on the Sword”, originally “Les Larmes sur l’épée” by Catulle Mendès. The theme for this, their 4th anthology, is libertarian retellings of classic folklore, fables, and fairy… Continue reading