It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but I came across a good one the other night and thought it worth sharing. It’s from Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station :
“The first phase of my research involved waking up weekday mornings in a barely furnished attic apartment, the first apartment I’d looked at after arriving in Madrid, or letting myself be woken by the noise from La Plaza Santa Ana, failing to assimilate that noise fully into my dream, then putting on the rusty stovetop espresso machine and rolling a spliff while I waited for the coffee.”
I love this opening. Six words in and we’re already asking, “Research? What research?” After which the author completely ignores the concept of research and launches into a series of personal details that conflict with our standard assumptions about the kind of person who actually conducts serious research: he doesn’t care a wit where he lives, or how his home is furnished, he wakes up late, smokes a joint for breakfast, he’s an outsider, but seems to be ambivalent about it…
Now, I've got a real soft spot for expat stories, but I, for one, couldn’t wait to read on. Come back Monday and we’ll share the first humorous vignette that rewards the reader who reads on in Mr. Lerner's first novel.