Today’s first line is one that absolutely grabs you by the ears and demands you pay attention. Have a look:
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”
Excuse me? You were what? So begins Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel Middlesex.
I love how the author delivers the crux of the plot in the very first line. He’s still going to take us through the twists and turns of a novel-length work, the slow burn of details, the crescendo of backstories and present action. But right there in the first line, he stabs his finger at the map and shows us our destination. It has the effect of making you wonder ‘how the devil are we going to get from here to there?’ And I, for one, was sold on the story.
Here’s how the next couple lines continue fleshing out the novel’s destination. I think it’s brilliant.
"Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce’s study, “Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites,” published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology in 1975. Or maybe you’ve seen my photograph in chapter sixteen of the now sadly outdated Genetics and Heredity. That’s me on page 578, standing naked beside a height chart with a black box covering my eyes."
Agree? Disagree? Fire away!