08 November 2012

This post is for people who read novels

The Guardian has an eleven-question quiz asking you to identify classic American novels from their first lines:
1. “Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts. The scrape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist March air, blue above the wires.”

2. “The Swede. During the war years, when I was still a grade school boy, this was a magical name in our Newark neighborhood, even to adults just a generation removed from the city's old Prince Street ghetto and not yet so flawlessly Americanized as to be bowled over by the prowess of a high school athlete.” 

3. “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.”

4. “Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in a single file. Although I am fifteen feet ahead of him, anyone watching us from the cotton-house can see Jewel's frayed and broken straw hat a full head above my own.”

5. “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children.”

6. “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

7. “On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.”

8. “He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful. It's a school day, sure, but he's nowhere near the classroom.”

9. “On Memorial Day in 1867 Daniel Lewin thumbed his way from New York to Worcester, Mass., in just under five hours. With him was his young wife, Phyllis, and their eight-month-old son, Paul, whom Daniel carried in a sling chair strapped to his shoulders like a pack.”

10. “A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before but there is nothing to compare it to now.”

11. “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.'” 
Fortunately the quiz is multiple choice, but I still missed four (three from novels I've not read).   Take the quiz here, and if you enjoy that sort of thing, try these old posts:

Opening lines from science fiction books.

Opening lines from famous movies.

1 comment:

  1. Eh, I only got 6 out of 11. But this isn't such a bad thing, as I have added more books to my reading list.

    The sentence from Beloved was so raw and dark. The book never strayed from that feeling.


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