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Bluechickenninja posts a lot about books. And I already think a lot about them as it is, but she posted two since my last visit to WP that made me go, “hmm…”

1. Favourite first sentences in books.
2. Characters we’d like to check back in with.

One is tough, but that’s because I don’t remember first sentences very well. (Or anything, really…just ask my fiancé.)

Two I would have expected to be easier…but…I don’t know. It’s tough for different reasons. Probably because the first character that popped into my head when I got the idea of her post was a character who died in the book. So. You can’t check back in with the dead. At least not in that book, since it’s not a scifi/fantasy bit. 😐

There are about to be spoilers…but I think a lot of books with characters I enjoyed turn out that way.

Hitchhiker’s Guide? Arthur died.
Oryx and Crake? Jimmy died.
The Sound and the Fury? Quentin died.

I can only think of two books with characters I wanted to follow further than their particular story ran…Shadow, from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I always hope that he will include more stories from that universe when he publishes his collections of short stories (haven’t gotten the most recent one yet, but it’s on my list…).
The other character I’d have liked to hear more from…probably Jake from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. I couldn’t stand that all my classmates in our Hemingway/Faulkner class felt like that story had a satisfactory conclusion. Definitely not! Not that there’s any chance of hearing from those characters again, as the author is also dead…but still.

I think maybe my feelings are better characterized as disappointment that the characters I enjoyed left so much unsaid because they died in their narratives, and less disappointment that the stories themselves ended, because I’ve seen the opposite happen, too. A character will live and live and live and I begin to wish they would die. Like Anne Rice’s Lestat. I love those books, but man…after a certain point, you know it needs to end, and since the author keeps writing, you have to decide to end things on your own before they can turn sour.

That said…I’ve flipped through my books (a daunting task, as I have many), and these are probably my favourite opening sentences (for novels…I left out the short stories).

1. “The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.”
Peter S Beagle, The Last Unicorn

2. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

3. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

4. “Fanny Swann popped the only red balloon, pretending that it was her father’s heart.”
Keven Henkes, Protecting Marie

5. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I don’t know…after reading through the first line of each stand-alone or first-in-series book I own…these are the ones I like best. And the third one? Not gripping or poetic, maybe, but it strikes me as sufficiently tragic to spark my interest…I rather enjoy my walks.

So, yeah. Thanks, bluechickenninja. 🙂

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