book beginnings on Friday: A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Georgina Puig

book beginnings

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.

I am having a blast with this novel set in modern-day Houston’s high society, loosely based on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

wife of noble character

I will share with you the first lines of the book, as well. But for starters, I couldn’t resist quoting here, because just look at the opening epigraph and its original author, you guys:

I learned two things growing up in Texas.

1: God loves you, and you’re going to burn in hell forever.

2: Sex is the dirtiest and most dangerous thing you can possibly do, so save it for someone you love.

–Molly Ivins

My mother loves Molly Ivins. I was glad to see her here.

The opening lines of the novel itself are a little calmer:

Preston noticed her immediately. He always did.

But never fear. This is a book that will keep you turning the pages.

Stick around.

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

book beginnings on Friday: Origins of the Universe and What It All Means by Carole Firstman

origins of the universe

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.

I’ve just begun a new memoir, about the author’s relationship with her decidedly eccentric father, a gifted biologist with poor social skills. It’s a little playful with formats within the book, and ranges from the personal to the broad. It’s called… Origins of the Universe and What It All Means.

What a title, right? Wait til you see the opening page. I’ve zoomed in, but this is the entire content of page one and chapter one:

one

“In the beginning there was darkness.”

Don’t worry, though, it’s justified & appropriate for this book. Do I have your attention now? Stay tuned…

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

book beginnings on Friday: Seed by Michael Edelson

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.

seed

I am finally getting around to reading Seed myself – so sorry for the delay! – after my favorite bartender reviewed it so long ago. Full disclosure: I took this free copy in exchange for my honest review, with friend Andy as intermediary. I do not, however, know the author myself.

I’m loving it! Check out these first lines.

Alex was killed at 11:43 AM. Not quite lunchtime, but close enough. He was stepping out of his armored personnel carrier when a string of pops erupted from the crest of a nearby hill, accompanied by a cloud of dust raised by muzzle blasts. His MILES gear started to buzz, indicating a hit, and Alex lay down on the ground and waited for the end of the engagement.

And then I didn’t look up for another 80 pages. It’s got great momentum. Stick around!

book beginnings on Friday: Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land by Robert Michael Pyle

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.

wintergreen

I am reading this in preparation for the upcoming Chuckanut Writers Conference and a class I will be taking from Robert Michael Pyle himself. An introduction from David Guterson is intriguing, as is the Pharos Edition (same folks who brought Still Life With Insects back into print). It begins:

At any time of the year and in any weather, my bedroom window frames a green and pleasant country scene. Halfway open, it makes a Kodachrome slide of the bucolic valley below, bordered by white sashes and molding.

Lovely. And this setting is just a few hours south of where I live.

(guest) book beginnings on Friday: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis, from Pops

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.

Pops has a book beginning he felt moved to share.

Here’s Wade Davis’s The Wayfinders (2009). Both the first sentence and first paragraph (only two sentences!) strike me as exceptional, especially for non-fiction. With this, we not only get a glimpse of the author’s subject & writing style, but also the way he works & perceives. Opening this book I had only spare awareness of his theme, but my appetite was already whetted; with this beginning my cup of expectations runneth over!

wayfinders

Wade Davis is an anthropologist & ethnobotanist. This book publishes in entirety a series of 5 lectures he delivered in 2009 in short sequence (1 month) for a prominent regular program on CBC Radio out of Toronto (CBC Massey Lectures.) That is a unique medium today, both as spoken-word and audio-only; I wonder if that had any influence on his dense & evocative style. I would need to read one of his other books to find out!

One of the intense pleasures of travel is the opportunity to live amongst peoples who have not forgotten the old ways, who still feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants. Just to know that, in the Amazon, Jaguar shaman still journey beyond the Milky Way, that myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning, that the Buddhists in Tibet still pursue the breath of the Dharma is to remember the central revelation of anthropology: the idea that the social world in which we live does not exist in some absolute sense, but rather is simply one model of reality, the consequence of one set of intellectual and spiritual choices that our particular cultural lineage made, however successfully, many generations ago.

Well, for what it’s worth, Pops, I enjoyed Davis’s Into the Silence years ago, and credit him with engaging writing, although my memory is dim beyond that, I’m afraid. The concept behind this one does sound interesting to me, too, and the format is an especially intriguing detail. We’ll be looking forward to your review!

book beginnings on Friday: Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume

book beginnings

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.

Guess what brought me to this one. It’s been a while since I read The Sun Also Rises (first discovered in Mrs. Smith’s English class in high school, which began my Hemingway admiration). I wonder if I’ll find time for a reread…

everybody behaves badly

I think these opening lines set the scene nicely – or the atmosphere of Hemingway’s life and fame, if you will.

In March 1934, Vanity Fair ran a mischievous editorial: a page of Ernest Hemingway paper dolls, featuring cutouts of various famous Hemingway personas. On display: Hemingway as a toreador, clinging to a severed bull’s head; Hemingway as a brooding, cafĂ©-dwelling writer (four wine bottles adorn his table, and a waiter is seen toting three more in his direction); Hemingway as a bloodied war veteran.

I wonder how much that page of paper dolls would be worth now!

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

book beginnings on Friday: Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research by John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts

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.

sea of cortez

I am feeling good to have finally found time to open a big fat Steinbeck book I have had on my shelves for years (and yes, moved across the country with me). Coauthor Ed Ricketts was, among other things, the model for the character Doc in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. That was my first Steinbeck, and I loved it, and thus that was my introduction to Ricketts. I have heard about their shared work of nonfiction for years, and spent some time myself on the Sea of Cortez, kayaking by day and sleeping on the beaches of Baja by night. So, much to look forward to here.

The very first lines paid off.

The design of a book is the pattern of a reality controlled and shaped by the mind of the writer. This is completely understood about poetry or fiction, but it is too seldom realized about books of fact. And yet the impulse which drives a man to poetry will send another man into the tide pools and force him to try to report what he finds there.

I have been studying creative nonfiction writing for a while now (aside from reading and appreciating it), so this concept really struck me. I knew I could count on Steinbeck. Now when will I find the time for East of Eden?

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