2010 opening lines in fiction: Who wrote them?

Some say the opening line makes or breaks a book. Can you identify the first sentences of six of the best novels of 2010?

What were the first words of this captivating 2010 novel?

Last week, I had some fun in this space with a quiz that asked readers to figure out whether politicians or rock stars wrote opening lines in recent memoirs. Now it's time for fiction fans to play.

Below are the opening lines of six novels that were released in 2010 and made the Christian Science Monitor's list of the 11 best works of fiction of the year. Can you match the lines to the books they came from?


1. "My father once told me that the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. If you don't know that, he said, what are you worth? Nothing. You're not a man at all."

2. "I had no doubt that something cruel and catastrophic had happened before I was even born, yet the comte and comtesse, my parents, would not tell me what it was. As a result my organ of curiosity was made irritable and I grew into the most restless and unhealthy creature imaginable…"

3. "Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks. He steadies himself on the knob and shuts his eyes. Chill air rushes under the door; he curls his toes. But the hallway is silent."

4. "Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. 'Was I minus numbers?' 'Hmm?' Ma does a big stretch. 'Up in Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three – ?' "

5. "Something shifted, something so immense you could call it the world. Call it the world. The world shifted, catching lots of smart people off guard, churning up issues you thought had settled forever beneath the earth's crust."

6. "George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died."


a. "36 Arguments for the Existence of God," by Rebecca Goldstein

b. "Tinkers," by Paul Harding

c. "Faithful Place," by Tana French

d. "Parrot and Olivier in America," by Peter Carey

e. "The Imperfectionists," by Tom Rachman

f. "Room," by Emma Donoghue

Randy Dotinga is a freelance writer in San Diego.

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CSMonitor picks: the best 28 nonfiction books of 2010


1. c, "Faithful Place"
2. d, "Parrot and Olivier in America"
3. e, "The Imperfectionists"
4. f, "Room"
5. a, "36 Arguments for the Existence of God"
6. b, "Tinkers"

Randy Dotinga is a freelance writer in San Diego.

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