Posts Tagged ‘first paragraph


a week of first paragraphs (again), tuesday

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The house I lived in that winter in Washington had been a rooming house with fourteen rooms, rented out mostly to addicts, when my landlord bought it in 1974. Friends told him it was a bad idea, but he bought it anyway, and his father came from Alabama to help rebuild the interior from the ground up. As soon as he could, he rented the basement apartment. The bedroom on the top floor he rented from time to time. The rest of the house was his. It was one of those row houses people walk by on fall nights and stop beside to look at the architectural details, the molding, the chandeliers, the bookcases, visible through the tall windows,  while straining for glimpses of life within. Often when they did this my landlord was sitting there in the dark in the front room with his dog on his lap, looking down into the street. He would sit there thinking of the nights he used to look at houses like his, enjoying the reversal of roles, till he realized his upstairs tenant was coming up the front steps–when I would see him stand up, gather the dog to his chest, and bolt to his study–the nicest room in the house, with a bay window on the second floor, and a spacious desk, and all his books and papers.

–Andrew Holleran, Grief


a week of first paragraphs returns (for at least one day)

toward the end of may, i posted a week of first paragraphs from novels whose authors i admire. today, i’m doing it again…who knows, it may be another week of them.

“a young man leans with one shoulder against the wall, and his slender body remains motionless against the huge open slab of night sky and night water behind him. he is facing the river. little waves scuttling shoreward from a passing, passed scow slap against boards: perfunctory applause. on the other side of the water, lights trace senseless paths up across hills, lash-marks left by an amateur whip. he turns toward me a look of hope tempered by discretion, eyes dilated by a longing too large–as large as this briny night panel behind him–to focus in on any single human being.” –edmund white, nocturnes for the king of naples

photos by john dugdale (if you copy these photos, please give credit to the photographer)


a week of first paragraphs–saturday

“On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Maroltt, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently, he was met by an elderly parson astride on a grey mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.” –Thomas Hardy, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”


a week of first paragraphs–friday

“‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again…’ Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.” –Salman Rushdie, “The Satanic Verses”


a week of first paragraphs–thursday

“Ennis Del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminum door and window frames. The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft. He gets up, scratching the grey wedge of belly and pubic hair, shuffles to the gas burner, pours leftover coffee in a chipped enamel pan; the flame swathes in blue. He turns on the tap and urinates in the sink, pulls on his shirt and jeans, his worn boots, stamping the heels against the floor to get them full on. The wind booms down the curved length of the trailer and under its roaring passage he can hear the scratching of fine gravel and sand. It could be bad on the highway with the horse trailer. He has to be packed and away from the place that morning. Again the ranch is on the market and they’ve shipped out the last of the horses, paid everybody off the day before, the owner saying, “Give em to the real estate shark, I’m out a here,” dropping the keys in Ennis’s hand. He might have to stay with his married daughter until he picks up another job, yet he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream.”  –Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” (from her collection of short stories, “Close Range, Wyoming Stories”)


a week of first paragraphs–tuesday

“I have been here before,” I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were white with fool’s-parsley and meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, such as our climate affords once or twice a year, when leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit stone and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God; and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest.” –Evelyn Waugh, “Brideshead Revisited” (Book One, after the Prologue)



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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