book beginnings on Friday: A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants by Ruth Kassinger

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

Oh my. You guys, I just started the most amazing book. For instance – check out these very first lines.

garden of marvels

This book was born of a murder, a murder I committed. It was not my first, but I have some hope it will be my last. Since I never set out to kill – quite the contrary – I suppose I am guilty only of negligent homicide, or possibly mere criminal negligence. Still, I feel deeply culpable. All I can do is plead ignorance, and say that this particular death was a life-changing event for me (as well, of course, for my victim). Possibly, since you have this book in your hands, the tragedy will save a few lives I will never know.

The deceased in this case was a twelve-year-old guest, a permanent resident, really, of my household. She was a lovely, graceful creature about five feet tall, and a particular favorite of my family. Kam Kwat she would have been called in Cantonese, had she lived in her native land. As it was, since we live just outside Washington, D.C., we knew her as a kumquat tree.

I have quoted at greater-than-usual length because I wanted you to be able to appreciate Kassinger’s clever ruse here. Wait, don’t go! Yes, it’s a book about plants – the science behind plants, even – but it is the least dry thing you can imagine; I think the conversational tone is well displayed here, and it only gets better. I am entranced. Stay tuned!

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

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