54 great opening lines: 30

These are stories for the ill, stories for the dull setting of a bedroom with herbal teas and hot infusions where Norine was invited to come and dreamily tell stories at our too-well loved childhood bedside, between six and seven, the hour when fever increases. Stories for Sick Children, Jean Lorrain ***** Thus begins a… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 29

When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning or in rain? Macbeth, Shakespeare ***** I studied this play twice in high school (two different schools) and never understood the political side.  Only the witch rhymes stayed with me;  my friend and I often cited them at relevant moments, especially when cooking: Double, double, toil… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 28

Let me lay it out for you: a rural photography competition in a local town hall and the woman next to me, sitting with her husband and two children, had travelled three hours to be there. 8 x 10 colour enlargements $16.50, Cate Kennedy ***** I heard this poem read on the radio.  With ‘Let… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 27

One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson’s poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car. The Paper House, Carlos María Domínguez (Trans. Nick Caistor) ***** This is a small… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 26

The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand. The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells ***** Yesterday I posted the opening line of… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 25

I am an invisible man. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison ***** Last week I pulled this book from a friend’s shelf and began reading.  Great opening line, I thought, but why don’t I remember it?  After I’d read a couple of pages I realised the book was not what I thought it was, The Invisible Man… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 24

The verb ‘to read’ does not tolerate the imperative, an aversion it shares with a few others:  ‘to love’ … ‘to dream’ … Like a Novel (originally Comme un roman), Daniel Pennac (my translation) ***** I’ve read this book in French.  On the back cover is a list of ten rights of a reader, which… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 23

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’ The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald *****… Continue reading