Not much; I'm packing to go to Quebec. But in the mean time (the mean time is a mean time and we know it) I've been thinking about novels with a great first page (or two). I had to think about this recently for a workshop I was leading. I made up an absolutely incomplete, arbitrary, but sort-of-across-the-spectrum list of some novels that I think have a great first page (or two). Can we add to this list? Yes, we can. So that's your job today: add to this list.
Here's the rules (because I'm in charge) for determining great first page (or two):
1. Fiction, in English
2. Has to have a great first page (or two)
3. Probably should include a rather fantastic opening sentence (although there are ways around that)
4. (MOST IMPORTANT! and this will shrink the list... ) The rest of the book can't suck either. In other words, no show-offs flashing around a fancy first page (or two) and then completely unable to sustain.
Here's where we start. If you need to know why I picked something, ask me, or, better, go read (or reread) it:
Hemingway "A Farewell to Arms"
Annie Proulx "The Shipping News"
Regina McBride "The Nature of Water and Air"
Stephen King "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption"
Toni Morrison "Paradise"
Sean (Shawn?) McBride (no relation to Regina) "Green Grass Grace"
Michael Ondaatje "The English Patient"
Darcey Steinke "Suicide Blonde"
I could name-drop another handful without too much trouble, but won't. Let's see what everyone else has to say.
While I pack, by the way, I'm wearing out the grooves on my Garden State soundtrack CD. If anyone doesn't think Colin Hay is the coolest thing going then you and me might have to take it outside.