“Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.” Them, who? Hitting, what—or whom? Cops a face with a baton. Schoolyard kids a ball with a bat. Or some other someone doing something to someone or something else. The ambiguity is tantalizing. I appreciate, too, how Faulkner deftly puts the reader on notice that it’s not always clear what a narrator is thinking, saying, feeling, or perceiving. How many layers between the subject who experiences this or that Something! A fence! Stems, petals, tendrils! And the negative spaces between them! How many layers between a reader and a narrator, between a reader and an author! A furiously gorgeous opening sentence. The sounds of meaning being created. In the beginning. Word.
So I guess Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will be the winner, eh? “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” You can’t really top that one, can you, Kevin? Well, I couldn’t, when I was around 20 anyway. Cheers!
[…] for Number One on his list of favorite opening lines. Tolstoy, Dickens, Bradbury, and Faulkner took positions five through two. My favorite would be: “Maman died today.” The Stranger […]
My vote is for “Maman died today.” The Stranger by Camus.
Hard to pick, though.
Hi Kerry, good to see you.
“Maman died today.”
Yes, a very good sentence. Terrifically poignant.
On another day, it might have found itself in my top five, and not only my top 10.
And love this series, by the way.
I think the whole first section continues in this confusing vein…