By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.
Not really. I just always wanted to start a story that way.
What would be really cool is if, immediately after this is posted, an old lady in an SUV backs over me in the parking lot of the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library and drives away, oblivious.
That’d make a dandy Twilight Zone episode, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, as you can tell, my long-awaited mystery novel is off to a great start. All I need is an additional 75,000 words and, not meaning to seem immodest, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a pretty good chance of capturing an Edgar Award (and possibly a Pulitzer).
A quick survey shows that most of the memorable novels on the shelves of the Fontana Regional Library System begin with absolute corker first lines.
Consider these gems (for more, check out amenninger’s masterful April 10, 2010 blogpost “It was a dark and stormy night”):
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” — A River Runs Through It by Norman MacLean“”When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” — The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley“Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.” Angels & Demons by Dan Brown“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” — I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith“Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.” — Middle Passage by Charles Johnson“Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.” — The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
“I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I am old, and you said, I don’t think you are old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’t very old, as if that settled it.” — Gilead by Marilyn Robinson“It was the day my Grandmother exploded.” — The Crow Road by Iain Banks“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” — If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Seeing how I’m practically guaranteed a major literary award, perhaps you’d like for your own work to be evaluated by a talented author. Send me your own chapters based on the exciting premise: “By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.”