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Book Meme Day 18

August 28, 2010

A tough one today:

Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book

This will probably be another “think of something great two days after I post my answer,” question. I tend not to think of scenes in books, because of the way I read, jumping right in and zooming around in the world of the story. Separating out scenes of a favorite book is really hard, because I’m busy gobbling down the whole story and seeing the whole picture.
Opening lines are easier to pin down. Couple favorites there.

1. “Hwaet!” the first word of Beowulf. Prof. Amodio, who taught the Old English class at Vassar, defined it as “Hey!” or “Yo! I have something to say!” Something suitably New York and in-your-face. I liked the incongruity of that being part of an Old English class.
2. “The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset towers faced east. Strange!”
3. “Dying is an art. I do it exceptionally well.” from Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus.”
4. “In the hospital of the orphanage – the boys’ division at St. Cloud’s, Maine – two nurses were in charge of naming the new babies and checking that their little penises were healing from the obligatory cicumcision.” John Irving, The Cider House Rules Can’t claim credit for this as my own discovery. My cousin Dan was reading it one summer and it grabbed his attention, so he read it to me.

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