Saturday, April 25, 2009

Brilliant First Lines

I just started reading a new (to me) novel, Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away. If it's like the other works of hers I've read, it won't be pleasant, but it may well be unforgettable (try to read her short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and then get it out of your head; I dare you).

In any case, here's the first sentence. Have you ever read a better one?

Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.
Once I read that, I was hooked. The next 35 pages have been pretty good, too.

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