Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Openers Revisited ~ PART ONE...

The first paragraph in a book doesn’t always “contractualize” you into the author’s work, but it starts as potential.  I mean just step back for a moment and think about the power the first paragraph in your favorite book had.  How did it deliver enough to keep you reading and re-reading the book over the years?  What was it about that opening that enticed you upon your initial exposure?  Did the author break you with a vivid setting?  Or maybe it was a character’s voice that captivated you?  Did the author deliver a joke that threw you into laughter, in a moment when you needed it?  Was it a matter of tone or emotion?  Or were you just excited when an author flung you right in the middle of a scene?
Whatever the case, we can’t deny the power of the opening paragraph.
So I decided to pull a few books off one of my bookshelves and share with you a couple of interesting ones I've loved.  Some are from books I found myself compelled to read by the author's style alone.  While some are from books I never read beyond just yet.  And some are from favorite reads of mine that has kept me coming back for more.

Loved the indefinable usage of the phrase “that place.” 
As the paragraph later concedes, "that place" turns out to be a black neighborhood.  Yet, somewhat usual, it's a neighborhood long gone as it fell victim to capitalism (to keep it light).  It fell at the hands of businessmen who uprooted the land and cut down trees to build a golf course and suburban neighborhood.  Hosting and furnishing whites only?  You bet.  Nevertheless, the catch is “that place” may be gone, but its spirit isn't.  There’s a haunting story stilled buried in the land‘s past.  And, of course, Morrison invites us into that haunting history with this opener.
Dare you step back into the 1920s and find out...

Cornwell is using her medical examiner, Kay Scarpetta, to describe her dwellings at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  
Besides the immediacy of giving the month and date; what I love about this opening paragraph is the dualities and parallels given.  First I love how she describes day moving into night and back.  And her look into these ominous "dark woods" perk me as well. Especially when considering how the woods surround Cornwell's character.  Yet, Scarpetta lies tucked in this industrial pin alive with a groaning plumbing system.  Additionally, the harmless and docile appearance of a deer edging toward the facility adds another tone.  And said deer is in a juxtaposition with the sound of gunfire in a nearby firing range.

Given every bit of imagery Susann gave the reader on New York, her protagonist plays ignorant to it all.  She just seems to glide forward into the city’s deeper, unforeseeable troubles.  So I love the play on chasing dreams, ambition at all cost, and innocence delivered in this scene.  As well as the underlying suggestion of awaiting troubles.

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