If you’ve had a sneaking suspicion that this blog has been on auto-pilot for the past two and a half weeks, you’re very astute. (Was it the eight straight days of Bookish Nerd Bait that tipped you off? The lack of responsiveness to comments? The dearth of weekend posts? All of the above?) Well, we’re back. And we’re better than ever.*
My vacation spanned three weekends, two countries, and despite my best efforts, only one book. So without further ado, let’s resume First Line Friday by looking at the opening of that particular book:
“The circus arrives without warning.
“No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
It’s the opening salvo in Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and if you’ve read the title of this book before you get to the first page (hey, I’m not making any assumptions about your crazy reading habits) you already have some vague idea of what it’s going to be about. You know what a circus is, of course, but you may be asking yourself what the devil a night circus might be.
The first line gets right down to business. There’s no beating around the bush, no backstory or exposition, no long lead-in. Just answers. It’s slightly mysterious, yet it already unveils some of the mystery the reader brings to the reading. It begins to explain and yet it raises new questions. It’s a great hook, and that’s what first lines are all about.
The book is by no means a great work headed for the Western Canon, but it’s a pretty decent opening if you ask me. Check it out.
* We’re not actually better than ever, but we probably feel a bit better post-vacation