…harder than you might think. These aren’t all my favourites (some are other people’s) but they’re all good. Bit of shock, a dash of reversal and you’re hooked.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 1984, George Orwell
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Mother died today. L’Etranger, Albert Camus
It was the day my grandmother exploded. The Crow Road, Iain Banks
All this happened, more or less. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis
It was a pleasure to burn. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. Scaramouche, Raphael Sabatini
In a similar vein, spoke with someone yesterday who was saying the trick to blockbusting book titles, at least according to Martin Amis and some of his buddies, is to pick someone else’s bestseller and just change one word.