Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten Famous (Sort Of) First Lines

My friend Stephanie (Rocket Scientist, Ask Me Anything, Rockets and Dragons) has this great thing going on all three of her blogs; it's not exactly a meme because you're not required to pick more people to take it, but it is something of a quiz, in this case testing your knowledge of literature. She had ten first lines per quiz, and three quizzes, one per blog - classics, science fiction classics, and her personal favorites.

Bookaholic that I am, I loved it, and even managed to get at least one right on each quiz. So I decided to do one of my own, based on books in my own personal library. Be prepared; yes, there are classics in my collection, but I'm also a major fan of mysteries, science fiction, and noir. So some of these may be familiar, but others you may have to dig deep for. In any case, check these out and give me your answers in the comment thread.

1. "Hapscomb's Texaco sat on Number 93 just north of Arnette, a pissant four-street burg about 110 miles from Houston."

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."

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."

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!)

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."

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."

7. "It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed."

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."

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."

10. "The full truth of this odd matter is what the world has long been looking for, and public curiosity is sure to welcome."

Okay, have at it!

Photo © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. I feel like I should know some of these. I'll be back after I think some more.

    Oh, and everyone's got a second shot at those they missed.

  2. I can get about four out of the ten but I am reluctant to post my suggestions so as not to spoil it for others.

  3. Go ahead Alan. That's what it's there for!

  4. 4 is Wind in the Willows, I think, though I can't remember who wrote it. I haven't read it since gradeschool.

    I also think that 5 is one of The Thin Man books, but I'm guessing since I've only seen the movies and never read any of them. Nor do I know who wrote them.

    I only know 9 because it was on Relax Max' list as well. I never read it.

    I feel like I've read 1 and 3, but can't put my finger on what they are. The rest leave me clueless.

  5. You're right on #4, Steph. Also on #5, although there is only one book called The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett. There was more than one movie because Hollywood got the bright idea that Nick & Nora Charles would make good series material; Hammett was less than pleased. They tried to do the same thing to Sam Spade from Hammett's The Maltese Falcon; that didn't work out so well.

  6. Fun game!

    I recognize 2 and 4 off the bat.

  7. Megan - Absolutely!

    Sophie - You're supposed to tell us your answer!

  8. I only know Wind in the Willows (and, Stephanie, the author is Kenneth Grahame).

  9. I'll take a few stabs, some just authors--

    1. James M. Cain?
    2. Arthur Conan Doyle?
    4. I'm going to have to go with everyone else on that one!
    6. Heidi? (Although it seems a little modern.)
    9. DC by CD.

    This was fun!

  10. K - #1 is a no. Megan got that one; it's Stephen King's The Stand. You have the right author on #2; want to hazard a guess at which story? #s 6 & 9 are misses.