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 This last opener is from my (unpublished) translation of a book of short stories.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


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


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


Review of ‘Spiridion’

When an author or translator completes a novel, the work is not over by a long shot. She then has to seek out a publisher, another endurance test a lot like job-seeking. When one says ‘Yes, I’ll publish it,’ the author might then think she can hand her work over, sit back and get on… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 19

In his thirty-fifth year, the dwarf of the Barnaboum Circus started to grow. Opening line, ‘The Dwarf’, Marcel Aymé 1934 (my translation) Sometimes an opening line of a story or book can distract a reader from everything else in that moment. He reads on, regardless of the noisy world around him. Nothing matters but the… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 15

There were 700 or 800 of them at least. Of medium height, but strong, agile, supple, framed to make prodigious bounds, they gambolled in the last rays of the sun, now setting over the mountains which formed serried ridges westward of the roadstead. Opening lines of Gil Braltar by Jules Verne, 1889, translated by I.O.… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 14

Swish! It is the wind, let loose. Swash! It is the rain, falling in torrents. Opening lines, ‘Dr Trifulgas’, Jules Verne (1884), translator unknown This story in French is called ‘Frritt-Flacc’, the sound of the hurricane and the torrential rain it brings. Dr Trifulgas is a rich old doctor who demands exorbitant fees from his… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 13

The men of the twenty-ninth century live in a perpetual fairyland, though they do not seem to realise it. Opening line, In the Twenty-Ninth Century, by Michel and Jules Verne, 1889, translated by I.O. Evans, 1965 The full title of this short story which is mostly the work of Jules Verne’s son, Michel, is In… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 12

I had never seen so many white coats in my little room. Opening line of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, translated by Jeremy Leggatt When Jean-Dominique Bauby wakes from a coma after a stroke, he’s surrounded by medical staff. He can’t move much of his body, just his head and one… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 8

A ridiculous rumour is going round the neighbourhood about new restrictions. In order better to anticipate shortages and to guarantee improved productivity in the working portion of the population, the authorities are going to put unproductive consumers to death; unproductive meaning: older people, retirees, those with private income, the unemployed and other superfluous mouths. Opening… Continue reading