The Best First Sentence in Fiction

Posted by in Literary Motifs

Scott and I recently had a conversation about how important opening sentences are to narrative. But I’d like to take this one step further and dare you all to come up with the best first sentence in a short story or a novel that you’ve ever read. We’re talking an opening sentence so utterly irresistible, something that is so unquestionably curious and so absolutely tantalizing that you, as a reader, simply must read the whole thing!

Here’s my nominee:

“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.” — Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers

And yours?

[UPDATE: Totally unrelated to the collaborative little quest here, Wendi is kind enough to point to Litline, the top 100 first sentences in fiction, which apparently was located by those swinging cats over at LHB.]

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