Thirty Days of First Lines: Day Two

For today, Thomas Pynchon’s “Crying of Lot 49,” introducing his protagonist and, in passing, displaying his penchant for goofy names.

“One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.”

Another of his great openers: “A screaming comes across the sky…” from Gravity’s Rainbow.


Thirty Days of First Lines

Per usual, I’ve found a gimmick for April blogging. This time, a memorable opening line or opening passage, one for each day. To start with the inevitable:

“Call Me Ishmael.”



This opens Herman Melville’s epic Moby Dick, a universe (or many) in a single novel.

Noble, and also such good material for jokes. Here is one of my favorites, from the now somewhat forgotten New Yorker humorist, Peter De Vries. He opens his “Vale of Laughter” novel, about one Joe Sandwich, thus:

“Call me, Ishmael. Feel absolutely free to call me any hour of the day or night at the office or at home . . .”