Arresting Openings

Here are a few captivating opening paragraphs or sentences from various novels. Non-fiction too reads all the better for an interesting opening – it lures the reader in. On a smaller scale, even the humblest business report would benefit from an incisive start. It might stimulate the prejudiced reader into paying more attention.
I was singing the hired assassin in Rigoletto the time I was propositioned to become one myself.
-Angus Hall, The Rigoletto Murder
Nobody could sleep. When morning came, assault craft would be lowered and a first wave of troops would ride through the surf and charge ashore on the beach of Anopopei. All over the ship, all through the convoy, there was a knowledge that in a few hours some of them were going to be dead.
-Norman Mailer (U.S.),
The Naked and the Dead
When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
-John Wyndham,
The Day of the Triffids
The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.
Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling- a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension- becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.
-Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
Hale Knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.
-Graham Greene, Brighton Rock
It was bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, through not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
-George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
I am going to pack my two shirts with my other socks and my best suit in the little blue cloth my mother used to tie round her hair when she did the house , and I am going from the Valley.
-Richard Liewellyn,How Green Was My Valley
By ten-forty-five it was all over.The town was occupied, the defenders defeated, and the war finished.
-John Steinbeck (U.S.), The Moon is Down

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