Lie down forever, lie down;
Or have you any money to bet,
Lie down forever, lie down.
Above are the first lines of my alma mater’s fight song, which seemed appropriate given that I’m re-opening this dormant blog with the second rendition of my “first lines” challenge.
If you weren’t around these parts last Thanksgiving, I stole this 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.
I’ll say it again, DO NOT use any other resources other than your own brain and/or the brains of those around you.
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 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 authors or books are generally well known, have won or been nominated for prizes, or have been otherwise much discussed recently.
• The selections can be from any time period or genre, fiction or non-fiction—what ties them 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 in one week.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
—The opening of Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy
1. Kino awakened in the near dark. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
2. At five-forty-five in the morning, Paul and I rousted ourselves from our warm bunk and peered out of the small porthole in our cabin aboard the SS America.
3. Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
4. When I was seven, I knew exactly who I was: a thoroughly American girl in race and manners, and speech, whose mother, Lulu Minturn, was the only white woman who owned a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai.
5. I met my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother’s funeral.
6. Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
7. I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
8. Since Maria had decided to die, her cat would have to fend for itself. She’d already cared for it far beyond the point where keeping a pet made any sense. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
9. PUBLIC NOTICE: There will be an auction on the 24th of March 1828, at Illugastadir, for the valuables the farmer Natan Ketilsson has left behind.
10. There is one mirror in my house. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
11. There could be no wearing of clothes without their laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September. [ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments below.]
12. At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country. [ETA: The author of this book has been named in the comments below, but the book hasn’t.]
13. The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.
Please post any guesses below, not on Facebook or Twitter. That way, everyone will be contributing to the challenge in the same place. 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 8th for a new post with the answers.