Today’s first lines comes to you courtesy of my bedside table, where sits William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways at the moment. Take a look:
“Beware thoughts that come in the night. They aren’t turned properly; they come in askew, free of sense and restriction, deriving from the most remote of sources. Take the idea of February 17, a day of canceled expectations, the day I learned my job teaching English was finished because of declining enrollment at the college, the day I called my wife from whom I’d been separated for nine months to give her the news, the day she let slip about her “friend” Rick or Dick Chick. Something like that.”
The opening sentence, and the one that follows it, don’t so much launch into a story, as they simply share some words to the wise. And any time we recognize the voice of experience talking to us, we do a very human thing, we start calculating whether or not we should trust the source and heed the warning, or whether we should dismiss it out of hand. We become eager to hear the tale behind the advice. Curiosity overtakes us, and we read on.
Here’s a guy on the edge. His marriage is on the rocks, he’s anxious about his job, and then boom- things go from bad to worse. He gets canned, his wife has replaced him and he’s pushed right over the precipice. Now he’s susceptible to all sorts of crazy whims. And we want to know just how crazy it gets. All in all, I think it’s a great opening. Worked for me, anyway.