Sunday, August 3, 2008

Favorite Opening Sentence

''Take my camel, dear,'' said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

Maybe it's just the company I keep but favorite opening sentences come up every now and then but this has to be my all-time favorite. It's from Rose Macaulay's 1956 Towers of Trebizond and the rest of the book--one of those quasi-satirical, quasi-despairing looks at eccentric Brits on the edge of a crumbling empire--is nearly as good. It's the only thing of hers that I've read but have sometimes been tempted by a historical novel set in the 17th century that uses only a vocabulary positively known to have existed at the time. I believe this is They Were Defeated but can't confirm it right now and hope that I didn't imagine this whole thing.

And while on the topic I don't know where else I will ever get a chance to mention that when I wrote a piece on Godzilla for Joe Bob Briggs' long-gone Monstervision website I used the opening sentence for Remembrance of Things Past though completely unacknowledged of course.

There's a variation on openings to SF novels at though it seems a bit narrow to me. Still, the opening to Neuromancer is certainly a great one and almost entirely because of one omitted word: "the color of television" with no definite article for "television".