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: 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: 37

1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. Opening line, Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, 1847 A dark novel with not one happy moment. At least not for me. I’ve read it twice without pleasure. Still, the opening line is worth studying… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 36

My brother Jack does not come into the story straight away. Opening line, My Brother Jack, George Johnston, 1964 A great first line that lets the reader know he’ll have to read on for a while before encountering the man of the title, Jack. It’s a story about an Australian bloke who is a likeable… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 35

The rabbits came many grandparents ago. First line, The Rabbits, John Marsden, 1998 The phrase ‘many grandparents ago’ is a brilliant way of defining time for Australian descendants of immigrants. For me, it’s a great opener to an unsettling story. The Rabbits is a fable about two things multiplying prolifically in this country: rabbits and… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 33

To rear a boy under what parents call the ‘sheltered life’ system is, if the boy must go into the world and fend for himself, not wise. Opening line, Thrown Away, Rudyard Kipling, 1890 In this beginning there’s a hint about the ending. The story comes in a little black Penguin book, The Gate of… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 32

Tuesday, July 23rd. – Am aroused by violent knocking at the door in the early gray dawn – so violent that two large centipedes and a scorpion drop on to the bed. First line of A Hippo Banquet by Mary Kingsley, 1897 This is the first line of the first story in a small book,… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 31

It was late, and Holofernes’ guests quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside, dismissed the attendants, and everyone went to their lodgings to sleep, tired from too much drinking. Holofernes had collapsed onto his bed, completely drunk. Judith was left alone with him in the tent. Opening of Chapter 13 of the Book… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 29

If an anaconda bites your hand – as, no doubt, one someday will – gulps your fist whole and holds fast, fight the keen urge to yank back. Really. Opening line, Emergency Instructions: If an Anaconda Bites Your Hand, David Macey This is the first line of a short short story, perhaps it’s called flash… Continue reading