Thursday, 20 March 2008

And then they all went home for tea

Air hair lair!

Double post today, because the first one needs time to percolate, as it were. Because, yes, to celebrate the festival of new starts and rebirths, I present you with the FIRST LINE QUIZ! (cheers, cheers, applause)

Premise is simple. I give you a list of first lines from famous books. You comment with which book it's from. Full points if you get author AND title, half if you get one or the other. Bonus points if you can continue the quotation (preferably without google!) Some are easy, some are middling, some are quite hard. And don't worry, there's no Pride and Prej. What do you take me for, a hack? Then in a few days, whenever I can escape from family and chocolate and crazy men on bits of wood, I'll post the answers, and tell you about my fave first lines and why they're so good.

So here goes.

1. There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.

2. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

3. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

4. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

5. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

6. All children, except one, grow up.

7. Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in wide zigzags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped up from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for part of the summer holidays.

8. Call me Ishmael.

9. μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί' Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε' ἔθηκεν



Oh, go on then:

Sing, goddess, the rage of Achilles the son of Peleus,
the destructive rage that sent countless pains on the Achaeans...

10. It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.

11. "Yes," said Tom bluntly, on opening the front door. "What do you want?"

12. To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

13. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

14. The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.

15. It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears's house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead.

Well, I think that's enough to be getting on with, eh?


  1. *grin* I love these kinds of things, let's see how I do :)

    (1) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis.
    Is (2)a Philip Roth?
    (3) is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    I'm 99.99% sure that (5) is The Catcher in the Rye, which is J.D. Salinger (but I like Franny and Zooey much better).
    (6) Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
    (7) is my most beloved Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
    (9) - ha squiggle - Homer's Illiad.

    And (15) must be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but I can't for the life of me recall the author

  2. Hmmmm, I got the Bell Jar and Moby Dick, but I'm stuck on the others.

  3. Tsk, nearly all the ones I knew have gone...
    4. Northern Lights (or another in the Pullman trilogy)
    11. A guess - Goodnight Mr Tom?