Friday, March 23, 2012

First Line Friday!

And, at long last, the first line of the week is as follows:

"A half hour after I came down here, the rains began."

Hmmm. Now, I'm indifferent to this first line. Clearly, it works. But I am not convinced as to how well it works. It's too bland for my taste, like it's missing an edge. And where is "here?" I think the writer would have done better to replace the word "here" with the actual location he is referencing: the toilet? his office? Baja Mexico? downtown? The first line deserves more specification.

So who wrote this mediocre first line? Wallace Stegner, in All The Little Live Things.

But, to be fair to Stegner, let's read the aforementioned first line with the whole first paragraph, and suddenly we have some serious prose:
"A half hour after I came down here, the rains began. They came without fuss, the thin edge of a circular Pacific storm that is probably dumping buckets on Oregon. One minute I was looking out my study window into the greeny-gold twilight under the live oak, watching a towhee kick up the leaves, and the next I saw that the air beyond the tree was scratched with fine rain. Now the flagstones are shining, the tops of the horizontal oak limbs are dark-wet, there is a growing drip from the dome of the tree above, the towhee's olive back has melted into umber dusk and gone. I sit here watching evening and the winter rains come on together, and I feel as slack and dull as the day or the season. Or not slack so much as bruised. I am like a man so stiff from a beating that every move reminds him and fills him with outrage."
Eh? Thoughts?


  1. "the air beyond the tree was scratched with fine rain."

    That's a great image. Something impossible to scratch, and yet, that's exactly what it looks like as rain approaches.

    As for the first line, I like it. I think it works because he omits the location. In doing so, he transports us to wherever he is. We're sitting there with him, almost as if we're chatting face to face.

  2. This feels a lot like the other Stegner line you posted a while back: "Now I think they will leave me alone" or something like that.

    Very conversational. Very simple. It doesn't knock you on your butt, but that's fine.