28 February 2010 0 Comments

How does that grab you? Great openings to new books

The first line of a great novel tends also to have a lot of punch — to “grab” you. My favorite is “The Sun Also Rises,” which manages to tell you a great deal about one of the main characters, but even more about the narrator: “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn.” This weekend The San Francisco Chronicle has a feature titled “Grabbers–first sentences from new books,” in which the newspaper highlights sharp openings to some current books by Katharine Beutner and Malcolm Nance, among others. The ‘paper was good enough to include among those they commend the first lines of THE FOURTH ASSASSIN, my new Palestinian crime novel: “As he left the R train and came up the narrow, gum-blackened steps from the Fourth Avenue subway in Brooklyn, Omar Yussef glanced around for armed robbers and smiled.” Do you have a favorite opening from current fiction or nonfiction?

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