Friday, January 27, 2012

First Line Friday!

This week's first line is not great, per se, but it is unique. Very unique. And to be fair, I have not read the novel, but I have seen this first line cited for years and years. Here it is:

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel 'If On A Winter's Night a Traveler.'"

This first line is from "If On A Winter's Night a Traveler," by Italo Calvino. Obvious, right? So, it's definitely unique, but to me it also smacks of how a 9th grader would commence his / her own novel. It's too easy, too convenient, it seems to me. In fact, one could argue that it shows a blatant disregard for literature. A novel in the second person? Give me a break!
Or is it genius?

I can't tell.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read it either, but having looked into this a little bit, I'm inclined to lean toward genius.

    The even numbered chapters in the books are simply ten first chapters of ten different novels which appear on their face to be unrelated, but whose titles form another plausible "first line" when thrown together:

    "If on a winter’s night a traveler outside the town of Malbork, leaning from the steep slope without fear of wind or vertigo, looks down in the gathering shadow in a network of lines that enlace, in a network of lines that intersect, on the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon around an empty grave what story down there awaits its end?

    As for the interspersed second-person chapters, wikipedia has this to say:

    "The second-person narrative passages develop into a fairly cohesive novel that puts its two protagonists on the track of an international book-fraud conspiracy, a mischievous translator, a reclusive novelist, a collapsing publishing house, and several repressive governments."

    Interesting. Very interesting...