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ucme's avatar

Some memorable opening/closing lines from a book?

Asked by ucme (45781points) August 20th, 2010

Those that stick in your head. A wide range to choose from I know but if you could cherry pick your favourites that would be much appreciated.

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13 Answers

second_guessing's avatar

It was the day my grandmother exploded. – The Crow Road (Iain M. Banks)

chyna's avatar

It was the best of times it was the worst of times. A Tale of Two Cities.

muppetish's avatar

Opening Lines

“It was love at first sight.” – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
“All this happened, more or less.” – Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Closing Lines

“Her lips began to move, forming soundless words, and they continued to move.” – “Franny” from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

DominicX's avatar

I distinctly remember “A man can stand up…” as the ending line of Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton begins and ends with the same line. I love that.

Also, the ending line of the Bible, Revelation 22:21 “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” THE END. That always makes me teary. :)

Austinlad's avatar

1. (Opening, Moby Dick) Call me Isamel
2. (Opening, Lolita) Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.
3. (Opening Huckleberry Finn) You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.
4. (Opening, Old Man and the Sea) He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
5. (Opening, Fahrenheit 451) It was a pleasure to burn.

chyna's avatar

Not the beginning nor the end of a book, but this is my very favorite quote, so please forgive me for not following the question exactly:
The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.”
Through the Looking Glass.

ucme's avatar

@Austinlad Shouldn’t that be Ishmael? Good choice though, a classic.

muppetish's avatar

@chyna As a self-professed Carrollinian scholar, I love that poem to pieces :)

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

What a brilliant opening :)

chyna's avatar

@muppetish I never get tired of it.

Austinlad's avatar

@ucme, you’re right. I missed the H.

ucme's avatar

@Austinlad Becoming quite a habit :¬)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

“Lightning sought our mother out, when she was a young girl in Brown County, Indiana.” is the opening sentence from a book entitled Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett, and in my opinion, it is the best opening line from any 21st century novel.

“A screaming comes across the sky.” from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

Finally, the greatest opening line of all time must go, again in my opinion, to “Rage—Goddess sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,” from The Iliad by Homer translated by Robert Fagles.

The reader is shocked immediately by all three examples and thrust into the trajectory of the plot. We feel the opening of events. The first sentence of a book is its single most important one. It has an enormous amount of responsibility. It has to grab the reader’s attention, and it has to subtly inform him of the subject and contents of the book. The images in this first sentence are crucial.

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