Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Answers to Yesterday's Post

Yesterday I posted the first lines of 10 famous, or semi-famous, novels which I have in my own personal library and challenged everybody to figure out where they were from and post their answers. People have been having fun with this, but as it's been about 24 hours since I posted it, I thought it only fair to post the answers and give credit to those erudite souls who got the right ones!

1. "Hapscomb's Texaco sat on Number 93 just north of Arnette, a pissant four-street burg about 110 miles from Houston." Megan got this one right - It's the opening line from Stephen King's The Stand.

2. "In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army." Citizen K got half of this one - it is indeed by Arthur Conan Doyle. The book? The very first Sherlock Holmes story (and yes, it's a novel, not a short story), A Study in Scarlet. This is the world's introduction to John H. Watson, M.D.

3. "I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination." Nobody got this one. This is the first line to Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, for me the second best book by this author. For me, her best book is The Dispossessed, but the first line in that book is "There was a wall." Somehow I didn't think that would be fair. Heh, heh!

4. "The Mole had been working very hard all morning spring-cleaning his little home." (I know, this one is a giveaway, but I love the book and had to include it!) Well, I did say this one was a giveaway. Stephanie, Citizen K, and Antares got this one: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This is one of my favorite books, and Antares was around when I did a paean to Pan based on Chapter 7, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn".

5. "I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me." Stephanie got part of this one; it is indeed The Thin Man, and it was written by the great Dashiell Hammett. I wanted to use the first line of The Maltese Falcon, but Hammett named Sam Spade and his secretary Effie Perrine in that sentence, so that was no good.

6. "The town shone in the snowy twilight like a Christmas window, with the electric railway's lights tiny and festive at the foot of the white slope, among the muffled winter hills of the Tyrol." Nobody got this one, but it's one of the 20th Century's literary classics - The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw. Not only is the book a classic, but a classic movie was made of it in 1958, starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Dean Martin, Hope Lange, and others. Shaw actually got to write the script, too.

7. "It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed." Ahhhh! Nobody got this one either, and it's another 20th Century classic - Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. That man has the most poetic prose style of any contemporary writer I know of!

8. "It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills." Another one nobody got. This is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Huh! Chandler and Hammett, eh? Well, I did warn you I was a freak for noir!

9. "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." I'm surprised nobody got this one, although Sophie said she guessed this one but forgot to report her answer. A definite classic: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. This is the second most famous opening line by Dickens, the most famous being the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities; I opted out of that one as just a little too easy!

10. "The full truth of this odd matter is what the world has long been looking for, and public curiosity is sure to welcome." This one's another classic, although it's not this author's most famous book. This is the opening line of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Master of Ballantrae; while not as famous as Treasure Island, it's still treasured as a classic. I didn't use the opening line of Treasure Island because it names Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and Treasure Island all in the same breath. Not much of a challenge there!.

So those are the answers. In closing, I just want to throw this one at you that I didn't think of until yesterday's quiz was well under way. But this is another classic; see if you can't figure it out.

"On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Organon, Repetition and Astrology."

Have fun!

Photo © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Great stuff! The Big Sleep is a great book and a great movie, a Bogie-Hawks classic that Faulkner helped write. Am I the only one out here who thinks that Lauren Bacall had a career because she was Humphrey Bogart's wife? Her appeal has long eluded me...

    Heidi, The Young Lions, Brando, Shirley can see where I'd get them confused!

  2. The sad thing is how few of these I've read.

  3. Roy....this was a lovely idea even though I only got two right, so thank You.
    However, I must also, in this comment, chide"K" about her distaste for Bacall.......there are many among us who adored her and wanted to BE her, me, especially. I thought she was an exciting, sensuous woman who didn't have to be able to act very well to get my full attention.

  4. Addendum to my earlier comment re Lauren Bacall
    and K's comment.
    Frst...I called "K" a "her" in my reply...excuse me if you are a 'Him".
    Second re Bacall only being in the movies because she was Bogie's wife....not so. She was chosen by casting to appear with him before he ever knew her....from what I recall, he fell madly in love with her on the set and they married after appearing together several times. Please don't diminish her with bitter comments.....she was and is grand.

  5. Jeez, I just re-read The Big Sleep not a month ago!