Still more novel openings

Last weekend I revisited the start of my unfinished novel draft (never a good idea). I was dissatisfied, of course, and soon found myself poring over the first sentences of novels I’ve recently read (in some cases, re-read) and admired. A few selections:

“My career has always been marked by a strange mixture of confidence and cowardice: almost, one might say, made by it.”
— Margaret Drabble, The Millstone

“I had taken Mrs. Prest into my confidence; without her in truth I should have made but little advance, for the fruitful idea in the whole business dropped from her friendly lips.”
— Henry James, The Aspern Papers

“One brutally hot summer’s morning, Paul Trilby — ex-husband, temp typist, cat murderer — slouched sweating in his t-shirt on his way to work, waiting behind the wheel of his car for the longest red light in central Texas.”
— James Hynes, Kings of Infinite Space

“The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine.”
— Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea

“My wife Norma had run off with Guy Dupree and I was waiting around for the credit card billings to come in so I could see where they had gone.”
— Charles Portis, The Dog of the South

“I will be her witness.”
— Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer

“It’s a half-empty early morning flight from Oakland into Midway and the sun is coming up, lighting the plane like the inside of an eyelid.”
— Stephen Elliott, Happy Baby

“We are each the love of someone’s life.”
— Andrew Sean Greer, The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Prior sets of first sentences are available here and here.


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