FIRST SENTENCES

“The small white steamer, Peter Stuyvesant, that delivered the immigrants from the stench and throb of the steerage to the stench and the throb of New York tenements, rolled slightly on the water beside the stone quay in the lee of the weather barracks and the new brick buildings of Ellis Island.”  Henry Roth, Call it Sleep.

“Toxic water streamed with gold like the belly of a turning fish: sunset over Newtown Creek.”  Kate Christensen, The Astral.

“Fame requires every kind of excess.”  Don Delillo, Great Jones Street.

“America, said Horace, the office temp, was a run-down and demented pimp.”  Sam Lipsyte, The Ask,

“As I entered the lobby of The New York Times at 10:30 P.M., normally deserted at that late hour, I found myself in step behind a lissome woman with wavy ash-blond hair, wearing a snug-fitting black dress.”  Arthur Gelb, City Room.

“Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the Forsytes have that charming and instructive sight—an upper middle-class family in full plumage.”  John Galsworthy, The Man of Property.

“I was looking for a quiet place to die.  Someone recommended Brooklyn.” Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies.

“It was in those days when I wandered about hungry in Kristiania, that strange city which no one leaves before it has set its mark upon him.” Knut Hamsun, Hunger.

“Every age creates its own Shakespeare.”  Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare After All.

“Nearly everything she said was truthful, but because she laughed so much her friends often believed she was joking and remained her friends.”  John O’Hara, Andrea.

“This could have occurred nowhere but in England, where men and sea interpenetrate, so to speak—the sea entering into the life of most men, and men knowing something or everything about the sea, in the way of amusement, of travel, or of breadwinning.”  Joseph Conrad, Youth.

“It is a remarkable fact about the United States that it fought a civil war without undergoing a change in government.”  Louis Menand, Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America.

“Close to three million years ago on a campsite near the east shore of Kenya’s spectacular Lake Turkana, formerly Lake Rudolf, a primitive human picked up a water-smoothed stone, and with a few skillful strikes transformed it into an implement.”  Richard E. Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins: What New Discoveries Reveal About the Emergence of Our Species and its Possible Future.

“The dream of reason did not take power into account.”  Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry.

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