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50 First Lines – The View
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50 First Lines


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“I’m pretty much fucked.” — Andy Weir, The Martian

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” — Stephen King, The Dark Tower Volume 1

“Here is a weird one for you.”—David Foster Wallace, “Signifying Nothing”’

“All this happened, more or less.” Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” J.K. Rowling, The Philosopher’s Stone

“The war in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes.” —Sara Nović Girl at War

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”— Albert Camus, The Stranger

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”—Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“No one ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them and believed them to be trustworthy.” — Helen Oyeyemi Boy, Snow, Bird

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984

“Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” —Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

“On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide—it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills—the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.” —Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides

“Some real things have happened lately.”—Joan Didion, The Last Thing He Wanted

“Your father picks you up from prison in a stolen Dodge Neon, with an 8-ball of coke in the glove compartment and a hooker named Mandy in the back seat.”—Dennis Lehane, “Until Gwen”

“Since it’s Sunday and it’s stopped raining, I think I’ll take a bouquet of roses to my grave.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Someone Has Been Disarranging These Roses”

“”To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.” —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

“I no longer care if I die, said Korin, then, after a long silence, pointed to a nearby flooded quarry: Are those swans?” —Laszlo Krasznahorkai, War & War

“Nobody died that year.”—Renata Adler, Speedboat

“‘You are full of nightmares,’ Harriet tells me.”—James Baldwin, “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon

“It was a pleasure to burn.” — Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” —Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

“I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.” —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. —L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between

“Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.” —Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. —Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche
“Psychics can see the color of time it’s blue”. —Ronald Sukenick, Blown Away

“They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.” —Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

“In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

“ When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” —James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

“Dear anyone who finds this, do not blame the drugs.” —Lynda Barry, Cruddy

“Pale freckled eggs.”—Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“Don’t look for dignity in public bathrooms.” —Victor LaValle, Big Machine

“The magician’s underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami.” —Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

“You better not never tell nobody but God.” —Alice Walker, The Color Purple

“I’ve been cordially invited to join the visceral realists.” —Roberto Bolańo, The Savage Detectives

“See the child.” —Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eyes that’s halfway hopeful.”—Don DeLillo, Underworld

“A screaming comes across the sky.”—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

“We wanted more.”—Justin Torres, We the Animals

“When the blind man arrived in the city, he claimed that he had travelled across a desert of living sand.”—Kevin Brockmeier, A Brief History of the Dead

“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that truth is a matter of the imagination.”—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

“The cage was finished.”—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon”

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

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