Shrine to the Beginning, by Kathy Mancall:
When you start a new book—at least, a new book you want to read, –present high-schoolers excepted who are being forced to read Billy Budd for their required summer reading lists—you crack open hope. You anticipate the journey ahead with excitement. Hope is unfurled before you like a clean, unbroken highway that disappears deliciously into the horizon line. That first sentence presumes innocence. As a reader, you haven’t been sullied yet by a plot that disappoints, dialogue that rings untrue, or the ending that didn’t lived up to the beginning. There is always hope that this will be the best thing you’ve read this year, or the guilty pleasure you’ve been waiting forever to indulge in, that invites you to load on the don’t-give-a-fuck mental calories. Great first sentences are like a clear bell ringing. They engage, amaze, and are the promise that you’ll be sorry when the last sentence ends.Note: In addition to participating in our show, Kathy is a writer, knitter extraordinaire, and the force behind Princess Animal.
So I’ve compiled here a shrine to some of my favorite beginnings. Maybe you’ll agree, disagree, or want to add a shrine of your own. If so, visit sfmobilemuseum.org and set down your favorite start.