Sunday, June 22, 2008
13 Possible First Sentences for a Novel
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, eighty-seven years old today, gazed out over the Alps and smiled.
Life at the morgue was unremittingly dull, unless a supposed corpse happened to wake up and begin thrashing around in its drawer, screaming and moaning and crying out “Milwaukee! Milwaukee!” in a kind of primal mania, and that only happened once.
“Fuck rice pudding,” he screamed venomously, and for one sick, desperate moment, he meant it.
A man can only take so much, Herbert mused, as he duct-taped the dynamite to his prize heifer.
A hundred years later, people would still ask Harold how he had done it.
Marilyn had never been all that good at apologies, but then again she had never been dangled out of a building before.
If I had known then what I know now – about motorcycles, about women, about voodoo prophets and Cold War grudges and the moon landing and pyromania and the strange habits of Saudi princes – I probably would have stayed away from the Westminster Dog Show altogether.
You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out what Marcy was getting at, but Philip was a genius, and his mind had (as it were) a mind of its own; so while she went on talking about how bored she was, and how lonely, and how really stupid most boys were, and how Philip was different, he really understood things, Philip found himself making dinosaurs out of the freckles on her neck, and then wondering if that was pointillism, and then reflecting that in a sense reality itself was pointillistic, if you considered atoms and sub-atomic particles, although perhaps those too could be broken down, in ways were just beginning to understand, and in fact that would be an exciting field to go into, although he also liked astronomy, which was what he had been practicing when Marcy had come out onto the porch and interrupted his telescope session with her pleasant but largely incomprehensible chatter, which she was just wrapping up by saying that she was going to go read in bed and she would be in her room if he needed anything, which was very nice of her, but he was pretty sure he’d be fine.
He was born; he lived; he loved, he suffered, he died; and he assumed that would be the end of it.
Half a million dollars on a single hand is a little rich for even my blood, but I knew Bubba was bluffing, because he had kicked me under the table.
For eons he floated in the thin cold soup of the universe, not really aware, not really alive – tickled by stars, twisted by nebulae, pull this way and that by the massless winds that rake the in-between – until the probing, yearning thoughts of a few frightened creatures on a muddy little planet far from the galactic center coaxed him into a shape, a place, and, finally, a name.
Thermometers don’t lie.