First sentence/paragraphs:

I think this may be the all time best one in history:

Steinbeck’s Cannery Row

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.”

I have a long, long, long way to go.

Rhapsody of the Bones is: “The Muzak played on and on and on, achieving an annoyance level usually reserved for screaming babies. If he was healthy, he thought, he would get out of this damn box and walk up the stairs the rest of the way. The weight of the cane in his hand made clear that was just another wishful thought. This elevator was so slow that he was pretty sure it had stopped altogether. He looked at his reflection in the gold spidered glass and a part of him just gasped. When did it happen? When did he go from being a sex symbol to being this sickly looking old man? Last month he hadn’t looked sick. He hadn’t looked sexy either, but he had always known better than to believe his PR.”

A Drop in the Hand is: “Wow! A squid for a friend!” Karen had never imagined anything so peculiar, but she had come to the city for new… Well, for a new adventure; for new spaces; new air and even new smells and a giant squid certainly delivered on all those things, especially the smell.”  

No Gifts for the Gifted: “Forty corgis in a full pack howl is such a barbaric sound, such an unrestrained sound, that the goose bumps on the back of his neck could have been used as extra pillows.”   (I have no idea about the real title for this novel yet.)

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4 thoughts on “First sentence/paragraphs:

  1. The sun did not shine it was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day. I sat there with Sally we sat there we two, and I said "How I wish we had something to do. Too wet to go out, and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house we did nothing at all.

  2. I second the motion. Cannery Row is the best. And the opening para just rips off the page. I am in awe of that first sentence.

  3. There is no other opening passage ever written that even comes close to the beginning of “Cannery Row” in its ability to simultaneously evoke a somewhat morose acknowledgment of the universal human condition as well as an appreciation of the functional and structural interface of human activity and nature, while simultaneously punching the reader in the gut.

    Or maybe I’m just full of it, trying to use more words than necessary this morning. For whatever reasons, it •is• the best opening of any novel I’ve read, bar none.

  4. Pingback: When the Written Word Wanders Us to New Worlds | graywanderings

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