a few days ago i published a couple of first paragraphs from novels by authors whose work i admire. a first paragraph in any book, but particularly novels, is the garden gate to the rest of the book. you might find yourself saying, “what’s just beyond that arbor there?” or “the hinges are a little rusty, but if i push gently enough i’ll be able to squeeze through and see what’s on the other side.” you may even experience a rush of feeling so powerful that to abandon the book would amount to nothing more than folly. (of course there are first paragraphs that warn you to go no further, “put the book down, it will bring you nothing but boredom, and possibly stupefaction.” can a book do that, i wonder? it’s possible i’ll never know for sure, for if after the first paragraph there is no desire to proceed, i rarely do.)
i hope you enjoy my selections and if you haven’t read the work, might find yourself at the library, or your local bookstore (are there any left?), online at barnes & noble downloading a copy to your kindle, however you come to it, and after that first paragraph you’ll discover yourself in a garden just as i have.
“Somewhere near Venice, Guy began talking with a heavy, elderly man, a refugee from Germany on his way to Trieste. Guy asked questions. The refugee eagerly replied. Neither seemed aware when the train stopped. In the confusion of a newly created war, the train was stopping every twenty minutes or so. Harriet looked out and saw girders, darker than the twilit darkness, holding an upper rail. Between the girders a couple fumbled and struggling, every now and then thrusting a foot or an elbow out into the light that fell from the carriage windows. Beyond the girders water glinted, reflecting the phosphorescent globes lighting the high rail.” –Olivia Manning, “The Balkan Trilogy: Book One, The Great Fortune”