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A Request

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Okay.  I’m asking for a favor.

Would any of you who can think of such a thing post to the comments to this post the title and name of the author of a book you think has an EXCELLENT opening–

I mean opening chapter or two, not just the first teaser line or paragraph.

Maybe then I can figure this out. 

For me, I’d give you two–the first chapter of W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, and the first chapter of Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods.

Written by janeh

May 29th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses to 'A Request'

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  1. Not just the first two chapters, but the entire book is terrifically written. When I re-read it years later, I was just as taken with the story. And it’s written in alternating first-person narrative, so go figure.

    Dick Lochte, Sleeping Dogs.

    Lymaree

    29 May 11 at 1:13 pm

  2. OK, warnings. I regard all the books as keepers, and have in fact kept them. BUT 1)I recommend only to individuals, 2) these are not the best books, but the best opening chapter or two, and 3) two are not the first books in their series.

    Lois McMaster Bujold, CURSE OF CHALION and SHARDS OF HONOR (front half of CORDELIA’S HONOR)
    Leigh Brackett, SWORD OF RHIANNON–but her very best opening is a short story “The Road to Sinharrat.”
    James H. Schmitz, THE WITCHES OF KARRES
    Barbara Hambly, THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT
    Elizabeth Peters, THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS
    Thomas Perry, ISLAND and METZGER’S DOG
    Baroness Orczy, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
    Georgette Heyer, THE RELUCTANT WIDOW, BLACK SHEEP and THE QUIET GENTLEMAN
    Jennifer Crusie, WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, FAST WOMEN, BET ME and AGNES AND THE HITMAN
    (What can I say? The woman writes well. I also note she writes realistic contemporary novels of ordinary people of the middle class. Some people like that sort of thing.)
    Also note a lot of books got pitched for a persistent rhythm: female character viewpoint chapter, male character viewpoint chapter, chapter in which characters meet. Third chapter is where the sparks start to fly, but it’s too late for “opening.”

    robert_piepenbrink

    29 May 11 at 1:32 pm

  3. If I spent some time thinking I’d probably be able to give you much more. However, this is the book I am currently reading (about 1/3 of the way through) and part of why I continued is that I loved the opening chapters.

    The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

    judy

    29 May 11 at 1:47 pm

  4. I’ll throw in an old favorite. “The Mask of Apollo” by Mary Renault.

    jd

    29 May 11 at 6:23 pm

  5. More SF:

    Glen Cook, first chapter of THE BLACK COMPANY. And all the rest of the chapters.

    William Nicholson, THE WIND SINGER

    And, you didn’t specify a novel, so
    Mark Twain, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

    with apologies to any Christian Scientists reading this.

    Anna

    29 May 11 at 8:13 pm

  6. “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel grabbed me from the first sentence.

    Mique

    29 May 11 at 8:14 pm

  7. I wonder if this is the heart of the problem?

    “Trollope is always a bit declasse in graduate schools–or in good ones, at any rate–

    Academics think he’s got much too much in the way of plot to qualify as a serious writer.”

    I like good plots with good characters. Good characters with an uninteresting plot bore me.

    jd

    30 May 11 at 2:59 am

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