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Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

As a lead-in to this period of annual self-reflection and review, and to get your brain cells moving after all that turkey, I’ve stolen a game from James over at Following Pulitzer.

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

The most important rule of this game is to rely on your own memory and brain and not to cheat by using Google or another resource, print or online. This includes looking up my recent reading at Goodreads or in the Book Challenge 2.0 group on Facebook.

I’ll say it again, DO NOT use any other resources other than your own brain and/or the brains of those around you. Mmmm, brains… (Oops, wrong holiday!)

So, what’s the game, you say?

Below I’ve posted a list of first lines from books I’ve read this year—your job is to guess the author and title of the work I’ve quoted from.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

—The opening of Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen

Some truths:
• Some of these should be quite easy; others are fairly difficult.
• I’ve used discretion as to what counts as the first line.
• The line may be in translation, my own or another’s work.
• The selections can be from any time period or genre, fiction or non-fiction.
• The authors or books are well known or have been much discussed recently.
• What ties these books together is that I have read them this year.

If you own a copy of the work, it’s fine to check it before you post it as a guess. Any other reference work or tool, print or online, is strictly forbidden. If it’s driving you crazy and you end up googling the answers, that is certainly understandable, but don’t share your findings with the rest of us, that is unforgivable!

Anybody is welcome to comment and guess and I encourage you to do so since even an incorrect guess may trigger something in someone else’s memory. I may also offer hints in my responses so be sure to subscribe to the comments. Whatever is not guessed outright or crowd-sourced through the comments will be posted on December 2nd.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

—The opening of Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy

And now the Twelve Labors of Thanksgiving:

1. Do you want my recipe for disaster? The warning sign: last year, Thanksgiving at their house.

2. I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-Second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me.

3. I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father’s house.

4. Gabcík—that’s his name—really did exist.

5. He came over the top of the down as the last light failed and could almost have cried with relief at sight of the wood below. He longed to fling himself down on the short and stubbly grass and stare at it, the dark comforting shadow which he had hardly hoped to see.

6. Lost in the shadows of the shelves, I almost fall off the ladder. I am exactly halfway up. The floor of the bookstore is far below me, the surface of a planet I’ve left behind.

7. The boys, as they talked to the girls from Marcia Blaine School, stood on the far side of their bicycles holding the handlebars, which established a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, and the impression that at any moment the boys were likely to be away.

8. You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.

9. His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze.

10. In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that part of the world, goes a great way.

11. In the winter of 1417, Poggio Bracciolini rode through the wooded hills and valleys of southern Germany toward his distant destination, a monastery reputed to have a cache of old manuscripts.

12. Though Robin Ellacott’s twenty-five years of life had seen their moments of drama and incident, she had never before woken up in the certain knowledge that she would remember the coming day for as long as she lived.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

—The opening of Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier

Double-Secret-Probation Bonus Round:

Clue #1, Prologue: Four o’clock on the First of November, a dark and foggy day. Sixteen characters in search of an author.

Clue #2, Chapter 1: There is a certain room in the Tate Gallery which, in these unregenerate days, is used more as a passage-way towards the French pictures collected by Sir Joseph Duveen than as an objective in itself. There must be many lovers of painting who have hurried through it countless times and who would to be unable to name or even to describe a single one of the flowerings of Victorian culture which hang there, so thoroughly does the human mind reject those impressions for which it has no use.

Please post any guesses below, not on Facebook or Twitter. That way, everyone will be contributing to the challenge in the same place. Note: As a safeguard against spoilers, I have temporarily changed the comment settings to require approval for anyone who hasn’t previously commented.

If you want time to think and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the comments below and remember to check back on December 2nd for a new post with the answers.

Good luck!

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