Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome back, monsieur

"Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men – courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men – mistrust and caution. It must be so."

So last week, I found a game that's pretty cool which goes basically: Post first four sentences of a published novel (or novella, or short story, basically a published work). People offer their thoughts on openings dispassionately, whether from blindness to source or forced dispassion in case of work they recognize. And thusly we do it again.

1. I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with my life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed up with it. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would have been feeling like that I should have laughed at him; but there was the fact. The weather made me liverish, the talk of the ordinary Englishman made me sick, I couldn't get enough exercise, and the amusements of London seemed as flat as soda-water that has been standing in the sun.

2. More than a hundred men were abandoned in the village. There was nothing to be done for them. They were drunk. A score of women stayed with them.

3. Except for the Marabar Caves -- and they were twenty miles off -- the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely. There are no bathing-steps on the riverfront, as the Ganges happens not to be holy here; indeed there is no riverfront, and bazaars shut out the wide and shifting panorama of the stream. The streets are mean, the temples ineffective, and though a few fine houses exist they are hidden away in gardens or down alleys whose filth deters all but the invited guest.

4. 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. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country.

5. The moment I heard how McAra died, I should have walked away. I can see that now. I should have said, "Rick, I'm sorry, this isn't for me, I don't like the sound of it," finished my drink, and left. But he was such a good storyteller, Rick -- I often thought he should have been the writer and I the literary agent -- that once he'd started talking there was never any question I wouldn't listen, and by the time he had finished, I was hooked.

6. It was a wet evening in Paris. On the slate roofs of the big boulevards and on the small mansards of the Latin quarter, the rain kept up a ceaseless patter. Outside the Crillon and the George V, the doormen were whistling taxis out of the darkness, then running with umbrellas to hold over the fur-clad guests as they climbed in. The huge open space of the place de la Concorde was glimmering black and silver in the downpour. In Sarcelles, on the far northern outskirts of the city, Yusuf Hashim was sheltered by the walkway above him.

Oh, and as an addendum, here are the titles of last week's books, in case you didn't recognize any:

1. A Place of Execution
2. Live and Let Die
3. Vampire Science
4. Knots and Crosses
5. Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases
6. 1984

And the titles of this week shall go on the end of next week's post, and so on and so forth.


  1. hard for the likes of me. I'm not that smart


  2. Oh, I never got round to doing some! Ah, it WILL happen. Anyways, onto my crazy thinkings about the openings :P

    1. Oh oh! I like :~) Although he's a tad moany in this part of the book, the beginning did keep me reading.

    2. Good, if a little short. I immediately want to know more.

    3. Well, I did read the book it wasn't so much of a great start for me. I had to force myself onwards...

    4. Haha, nice read. The character voice was good, connected with the reader in a way that otherwise might not have been achieved had followed the story through the other MC's viewpoint...

    5. I like this a lot. Already a question is posed and I want to hear Rick's storytelling. Also, it involves death so the mystery deepens

    6. Ok. I think the flow of the paragraph pushes you to read more. I can see the rest of the book following the same pattern...

    Ok, that's me done. :~D Can't wait to find out what the ones I don't know are!

  3. I tried, I really did. My brain is just mush this weekend. You make me think too hard, Sir Nick.