From a novel to be published in June by Broadway Books:
If you choose books the way I do, you still have a chance to save yourself a few bucks. You are probably standing, feet comfortably spread, before the shelves of the Fiction section of your favorite bookstore. Having made a selection, you've settled onto your dominant side (for me, it is the left) to decide, based on the first page or two, whether or not this one is worth either the trouble or the cover price. You aren't looking for anything in particular. Even a single word can win you. You once bought a book because the word macadam appeared on the first page.
The author — okay, the narrator — is actively soliciting our attention. All novelists face the same challenge, of course, but few are so up front about it.
This one brings to the table self-deprecation, humor, a genuine stab at camaraderie...
"The whole conceit behind your First Paragraph Peek series is faulty," Valaas declares. It's a noteworthy criticism if for no other reason than Valaas rarely speaks.
"First Paragraph Preview. Not peek," I clarify, "preview." He probably got it wrong just to irk me. "Faulty how?"
"I can't make an informed decision from just one paragraph," Valaas says. (He doesn't like people calling him by his last name. I'm doing it to irk him back.)
Georgie jumps in. "It's like speed-dating," she argues. "If you want more, go back for more. But if you want to run away — from, for instance, a very strange man who smells like a cheese shop..."
"Who has a dominant side?" Brockman interrupts. "What does that even mean, in terms of reading?" I make a mental note to ask Georgie about the date who smelled like cheese.
Over by the door to our foyer, Jereme stands up to announce, "I'm more agile on the left side of the spine." (What is it today that's got the tech guys talking?) "On average," he goes on, "I read even-numbered pages — those are generally the ones on the left side, when a book is open — about six percent faster, according to tests I've performed."
That shuts us up.
But what say you? You. Can you identify one or more specific characteristics of a first paragraph that are likely to keep you reading? Does this week's satisfy any of them?
Update: Find the author and title.
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Books mentioned in this post
Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State