October 21, 2006

Reading Great Writing-3 (First Sentences)

From the Radcliffe list (below), some of the first sentences. After that, some greats that didn't make their list. Ford Madox Ford -- more people need to read his work.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote:
The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call "out there."

Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie:
I was born in the city of Bombay... once upon a time.

White Noise, by Don Delillo:

The station wagon's arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus.

Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather:
One afternoon in the autumn of 1851 a solitary horseman, followed by a pack-mule, was pushing through an arid stretch of country somewhere in central New Mexico.

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett:
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell:
Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker:
I am fourteen years old.

Ulysses, by James Joyce:
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding:

The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.

All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren:

To get there you follow Highway 58, going northeast out of the city, and it is a good highway and new.

The World According to Garp, by John Irving:
Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.

Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
In 1913, when Anthony Patch was twenty-five, two years were already gone since irony, the Holy Ghost of this later day, had, theoretically at least, descended upon him.

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame:
The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum:
Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife.

Why aren't these on the Radcliffe List?

The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford:
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry:
When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake -- not a very big one.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving:
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice -- not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

Cold Mountain, by Richard Frazier:
At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Mag L'Engle:
It was a dark and stormy night.

Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain:
I drove out to Glendale to put three new truck drivers on a brewery company bond, and then I remembered this renewal over in Hollywoodland.

The Screwtape Letters, by CS Lewis:
My dear Wormwood, I note what you say about guiding your patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend.

Reading Great Writing-2 (Apple)

Johnny Apple died recently. While most will recall his work as war correspondent for the New York Times, for me, it's his work as a travel writer that first comes to mind.

Apple's Europe and Apple's America are great reads -- beautiful and eloquent without being elitist. You can read excerpts of America at Amazon.com; Apple's Europe is rather hard to find -- if you stumble upon a copy, grab it.

First sentence, Apple's America:
Boston is one of the oldest American cities, a repository of our national past, yet it has shown an extraordinary capacity to look to the future and reinvent itself when needed.

Reading Great Writing-1

According to the Radcliffe Publishing Course, these are the top 100 English-language novels of the 20th Century (banned or challenged books having been bold-faced by the American Library Association):

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, John Stein****
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Ulysses, James Joyce
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1984, George Orwell
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, John Stein****
Charlotte's Web, EB White
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne
Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin
The World According to Garp, John Irving
All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
A Room with a View , EM Forster
The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Schindler's List, Thomas Keneally
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baum
Lady Chatterley's Lover, DH Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
My Antonia, Willa Cather
Howard's End, EM Forster
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger
Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Jazz, Toni Morrison
Sophie's Choice, William Styron
Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner
Passage to India, EM Forster
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Orlando, Virginia Woolf
Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence
Bonfire of the Vanities, Thomas Wolfe
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Light in August, William Faulkner
The Wings of the Dove, Henry James
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
A Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Women in Love, DH Lawrence
Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe
In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
White Noise, Don DeLillo
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
The War of the Worlds, HG Wells
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
The Bostonians, Henry James
An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Where Angels Fear to Tread, EM Forster
Main Street, Sinclair Lewis
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie