Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

In 2018

First Lines

  1. When Saul dies, Simon is in physics class, drawing concentric circles meant to represent the rings of an electron shell but which to Simon meant nothing at all.
  2. Millie Gerdavey cheated on her boyfriend again.
  3. ‘Mary? Hey, Mary, here’s that girl artist I was telling you about.’
  4. In a room for women whose bodies are broken, Eivør Mínervudóttir’s biographer waits her turn.
  5. Fate came for Dottie Epstein a year earlier, in the form of a call to the principal’s office.
  6. My wig slumps on my desk where I have tossed it like flattened road kill.
  7. A strange fear crept over Berlin in early 1943.
  8. My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways.
  9. Nora glances at the clock above the classroom door.
  10. Lale rattles across the countryside, keeping his head up and himself to himself.
  11. They came for Luke that night.
  12. The thing i later remembered the most about the day the gunman came was my teacher Miss Russell’s breath.
  13. I am old.
  14. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who leave home, and those who don’t.
  15. “‘Look at you in your fur!’
  16. Deep, deep in the morning, sirens.
  17. Mandy stared at the photograph on her computer screen and held her breath.
  18. The bus to Oak Ridge was packed with other girls June’s age, along with a few soldiers and laborers in the back.
  19. When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he’d killed himself.
  20. It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore.
  21. ‘Follow my lead, Miss Rook,’ Jackaby said, rapping on the ornately trimmed dor to 1206 Campbell Street.
  22. Mr. Jackaby’s cluttered office spun around me.
  23. To say that the house at 926 Augur Lane was not yet back to normal would be to grossly misrepresent the nature of the house at 926 Augur Lane.
  24. The new doctor took her by surprise.
  25. To Charles Stanton, there was nothing like a good, close shave.
  26. The prison was a vast, gray concrete monstrosity, surrounded by a razor-wire-topped chain-link fence.
  27. As I turned to lean my shovel against the rusted gray of the car, I looked in passing down into the grave I had dug, and saw there, along the face or wall, in trembling roots, the path I had traveled these several months taking the census in the farthest districts.
  28. I have an old black-and-white photograph taken in the 1920s of a woman at a traveling circus floating in a massive tank filled with water, blond hair billowing around her head, legs hidden by a false mermaid’s fin made of metallic fabric and thread to look like scales.
  29. In the minds of literate English men and women, as colonization began in the 1500s, North America was an uncertain world inhabited by monstrous creatures, a blank territory skirted by mountains of gold.
  30. Sing, O Goddess, of the fury Dyann Brooks-Morriss, teller of unbearable truths.
  31. She was aware first of the scent of the hotel shampoo, a Middle Eastern aroma reminiscent of anise, and then–when she opened her eyes–the way the light from the window was different from the light in the rooms in the hotel where the crew usually stayed.
  32. Death does not suit me.
  33. Finally, the car came to a stop.
  34. In rehab now — again.
  35. Responsible people do not take crotchless panties with them on business trips.
  36. The shrill of the cell phone jerked Fiona awake in the driver’s seat.
  37. Nellie couldn’t say what woke her.
  38. The first shots ring out before dawn.
  39. In June of 1992, I left Boston for France with everything in front of me.
  40. It’s like that sometimes.
  41. ‘All right, ladies.’
  42. It was a dark and stormy night.
  43. After, the sun turned gray and descended into the lake like a spider dropping from the ceiling.
  44. Anything can happen, Will Dando thought.
  45. After processing the house, the police said to Drew Whithuhn, ‘It’s yours.’
  46. The strip.
  47. The police were outside again last night.
  48. If Marianne McCready drove any slower, the Georgia Highway Department was going to slap a ‘derelict’ sticker on the back of her cute little red Mustang and call it a day.
  49. When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.
  50. I almost missed seeing Duane Chapman die.
  51. I was in The Program.
  52. I was no longer lonely but I was.
  53. We deceive ourselves.
  54. Be careful what you wish for.
  55. Chain Night happens once a week on Thursdays.
  56. ‘Ten, nine, eight, seven…’
  57. The rules of the Crave were simple.
  58. ‘Who the hell are you?’
  59. Margot Cary leaned her forehead against the warm truck window as it bounced along the pitted Georgia highway.”
  60. By 1870, not even four full years after the clerk of Chesterfield County, Virginia, officially recorded Emily Reid Levallois’s death, rumors of her survival and true whereabouts abounded.
  61. Out here darkness meant death.
  62. Frankie McCready dabbed one last touch of lipstick on Spud McArthur’s lower lip.
  63. All Dora Judd ever told anyone about that night three weeks before Christmas was that she won the painting in a raffle.
  64. Rielle Dardenne hurried into Tal’s office and dropped the sparrow’s message onto his desk.
  65. Like a lot of successful people, I have problems with my sinuses.
  66. Tella was no longer floating.
  67. The girl leaned, rather than walked, into the wind, clutching the damp package of fish and chips grimly under one arm even as the gale plucked at the paper, trying to unravel the parcel and send the contents skittering away down the seafront for the seagulls to claim.
  68. In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.
  69. They killed my father first.
  70. The old oak tree I’d climbed was one of a dozen or more on Jupiter Street.
  71. On Friday, July 22, 2005, Simone Knox ordered a large Fanta–orange–to go with her popcorn and Swedish Fish.
  72. Someone seemed to be shouting her name from far away–‘Ari Sullivan!’
  73. ‘Let the dead bury their own dead.’
  74. Emily racked her brain.
  75. I hadn’t spoken to Whitley Lansing–or any of them–in over a year.
  76. Frankie McCready carefully dusted Maybelline blush in Light Rose on the curve of Eula Buckinerny’s cheek.
  77. So this is how you discover your husband is having an affair, Josie Moore thought.
  78. Something whispered.
  79. My sister Gardner, a former Nurse Completionist, is missing, gone completely.
  80. It was an unmarked car, just some nondescript American sedan a few years old. but the blackwall tires and the three men inside gave it away for what it was.
  81. I brung Pedro home for Thanksgiving break and tomorrow I have to bring him back to school.
  82. Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening.
  83. His wife had died in June and there was to be a memorial service for her in two weeks, at the end of the summer.
  84. There was no possibility of taking a walk through the grounds of Lowood school without hearing the dreadful and yet utterly exciting news: Mr. Brocklehurst had been–gasp!–murdered.
  85. Jamie twists the dial on the radio up to full volume so we can hear the Stone Roses over the wind whistling past our ears.
  86. The last photo the nurse found on my camera was of an ice cream vendor on a stone street in Mysore.
  87. She was born with the century.
  88. Early yesterday morning, NASA successfully launched the first ever manned spacecraft destined to travel to a different star system.
  89. As Christine walked out of the air-conditioned terminal into the balmy, sweet air of Southern California, she inhaled sharply and started to laugh.
  90. ‘We should dress alike,’ I said on that afternoon when life changed forever.
  91. Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Wolsey, was yelling.
  92. It was embarrassing to take the bus, but it was doubly embarrassing to hand the driver a coupon that had been cut out of the back of a Cheerios box.
  93. This was twelve years ago.
  94. Maybe the machine could see the worlds she never spoke.
  95. Ask yourself the following question: Am I stressed out, overbooked, and/or underwhelmed by life?
  96. ‘How much longer, Mama, must we tolerate this gross humiliation?‘”
  97. In the ransacked Black Quarry base, the boy climbed into an overhead bent and secured the cover behind him.
  98. Serina Tessaro stood on the steps of the fountain in Lanos’s central piazza flanked by nine other girls her age, all in their finest gowns.
  99. ‘Five months!’
  100. The girls at school had a club, a secret club with secret rules.
  101. Julian had no idea what it meant to die.
  102. As New Deza’s mission bell sliced ten consecutive chimes into the steamy morning air, Lu bounced on the toes of her worn buckle shoes.
  103. ‘I said no such thing,’ grumbled Lord Maccon, allowing himself, begrudgingly, to be trussed in a new evening jacket.
  104. ‘Ready or not, here I come!’
  105. The instant Dee Guerrera peeled open her eyelids and gazed around the dimly lit warehouse, she knew she was screwed.
  106. Lady Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama was enjoying her evening exceedingly.
  107. The queasiness of a proximity break drains from my gut as I spy Kasim through the glass door of his classroom.
  108. ‘We are not pleased, young lady.’
  109. Lightning clawed across the sky, tracing veins through the clouds and marking the pulse of the universe itself.
  110. The legend is that Duse’s birth took place on a moving train in the year 1858, as the locomotive steamed into Vigevano in northern Italy.
  111. Bram stares at the door.
  112. As Sanchia Grado lay facedown in the mud, stuffed underneath the wooden deck next to the old stone wall, she reflected that this evening was not going at all as she had wanted.
  113. One wrong step and my ankle would snap like greenwood kindling.
  114. The sixth of seven children, Harvey Washington Wiley was born on April 16, 1844, in a log cabin on a small farm in Kent, Indiana, about a hundred miles northeast of the farm where Abraham Lincoln had grown up a few decades earlier.
  115. Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get to the castle.
  116. The labor, when it began, was hard and full of blood.
  117. You know what’s amazing?
  118. “‘You’re awake!’ said a voice as Abi opened her eyes.
  119. The day of the royal massacre started out like any other.
  120. If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a week’s time, I wouldn’t believe them.
  121. It’s sunset, and the sky is aflame, not with clouds or dust, but with the iridescent feathers of a million genehacked passenger pigeons.
  122. It’s midnight, but the sunset is still fading into darkness, the day stretched late by our northern latitude and the Earth’s axial tilt.
  123. It’s a beautiful day in the city.
  124. He was lost, and only I could find him.
  125. The braziers in the torture chamber had burned low while Irene waited for the count to arrive.
  126. It was one minute to noon, and I was standing in the lunch line at school — it was chicken and noodles day, which meant I’d find a bone, and it would ruin my meal like it always did.
  127. Ayoola summons me with these words — Korede, I killed him.
  128. They hadn’t spoken for almost an hour — not since Harrogate, where he’d had some trouble with a roundabout and the solicitor’s car had vanished, eclipsed by traffic — when Charles Hayden caught his first glimpse of the Eorl Wood.
  129. It was the Bishop boy who started it all.
  130. What drives your fascination with the past?
  131. Everyone knows about the island of Sawkill Rock:
  132. It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.
  133. I forget everything between footsteps.
  134. Gold.
  135. Human!
  136.  “The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.
  137. More than anything, what Billy Stafford wanted to do right now was to smash Shawn Eagle’s smug little face in.
  138. When I wake, my hands are covered in blood.
  139. From the moment I accepted the invitation, I was nervous about returning to Germany.