Friday, November 18, 2011

First Line Friday!

There is simply no more influential component of a novel than the first line (other than the last line, but we’ll get to that in time). The first line is the writer’s declaration that the novel is in your hands, ready to be read, deemed to be important, and destined to alter your thinking. It's your first impression.

The first line of a novel is so embedded with purpose and prose that it leaves some writers seeming omnipotent, while it leaves others pleading for recognition.

With that being said, I hereby deem every Friday to be “First Line Friday” where we’ll look deep into my favorite first lines of all time.

Let’s start with perhaps the most powerful first line of a novel I have ever perused:

Over the weekend the vultures got into the presidential palace by pecking through the screens on the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur.

Of course, that is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s first sentence of The Autumn of the Patriarch. Hard to believe it’s the first sentence of a novel. The resonance of those phrases are astounding: “pecking through the screens” and “stirred up the stagnant time inside” and “city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries” and “the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur” all in the first sentence!

But that’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez for you. Genius.

1 comment:

  1. I like it.

    Very solid. Though, the opening "Over the weekend" gives it the air of a news report, I think. It would be stronger without it, and I would have lopped that phrase off as an editor.

    But that may be why Marquez is a living legend, and I comment on blogs...