FIRST SENTENCES

“It’s not so easy writing about nothing.”  Patti Smith, M Train.

“It was in the days when theater companies toured not just France, Switzerland, and Belgium, but also North Africa.” Patrick Modiano, Suspended Sentences.

“I seldom dream.  When I do, I wake with a start, bathed in sweat.” Magda Szabor, The Door.

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss.

“Melancholy as it is to stand at dawn and watch one’s house vanish over a cliff. I can’t deny that amid the attendant dust cloud of black thought is a whirling spark of exhilaration, as after the death of a partner or parent.” James Hamilton-Paterson, Rancid Pansies.

“My name is J.D. Vance, and I think I should start with a confession: I find the existence of the book you hold in your hands somewhat absurd.” J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.

“The Americans were coming, and Saddam Hussein was on his best behavior.” Christian Alfonsi, Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Irag.

“The first time I met Sunee, I was in Klong Toey seeking a poor person whom I could ask why poverty existed, and she rushed right up to me, drunkenly plucking at my sleeve, pleading with me to come home with her.” William T. Vollmann, Poor People.

“On a hot night in Lokichokio, as a generator thumps in the distance and katydids cling like thin winged leaves to the lightbulb overhead, he tells his visitor that there is no difference between God and the Devil in Africa.” Philip Caputo, Acts of Faith.

“One of the few things that humanity has agreed upon for most of history is that its laws descend directly from the gods.” Sadakat Kadri, The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson.

“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.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah.

“If you want to get people to believe something really, really stupid, just stick a number on it.” Charles Seife, Proofiness: The Dark Art of Mathematical Deception.

“The day my wife left she gave me a list of who I was.” Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker.

“I’m here because I was born here and thus ruined for anywhere else, but I don’t know about you.” Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York.

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