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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


FPP#2: But Oh

Today's first paragraph:

I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I've never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I've never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I've never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.

Two odd, exact admissions. The simple sentences start us rolling; we're set off with a push. (If it seems illogical that short sentences speed up a narrative, think of a steak cut into bite-sized pieces. Now think of trying to chew a steak whole. That semicolon before these parentheses shaved a millisecond off your life.) But then what's this about raising arms at the moon? And who calls a moon "beguiling"? The hands and moon slip past before you know it. Until hat and that the slant rhyme of moon and bathroom barely registers. Go back to make sure lines haven't been rhyming all along.

Two more clipped thoughts — technically one compound sentence with a stray period stuck in the middle to call out the clunky, mismatched pairing of car and night. We are being set up for a couplet straight out of Dr. Seuss, followed by another unrhymed pair.

So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. Hush, and you might hear the speaker's footsteps as she approaches the lip of the stage — if this is, in fact, the voice of a woman. (Baths, a sister, the beguiling moon — a hunch.) Gender this or gender that, brass and strings swoon in the orchestra pit. We're made to focus. But it's in the closing sentence that the author wholly commits: in case living a thousand lives and exponential love aren't high-pitched enough, they're delivered in a triple rhyme.

It could be Chick-Lit, it could be a fairy tale, it could be neither or both. The voice reminds me as much of Joni Mitchell as any author, not so much the words but her precision with each note: articulation, range. It could be a bestseller if the whole book is as carefully paced, blooming with detail.

On the other hand, there may be unicorns by chapter three, and can we safely rule out that a house pet is not telling the story? Because that would help explain the beguiling moon.

Am I out of my mind? Would the paragraph keep you reading? Come back Monday to find the author and title.

Wednesday (February 8th) brings another opening paragraph from a not-yet-published book.

Skip back to February 1st's paragraph.

Update: Read more about this book. And a change to the timetable — the next preview will go up (fingers crossed) Thursday afternoon.

÷ ÷ ÷

Dave interviews authors for Powell's. He created our Out of the Book film series. He likes cats and dogs.

Books mentioned in this post

Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State

10 Responses to "FPP#2: But Oh"

    pop!goes February 3rd, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Why do we have to wait to know who wrote it? You are toying with us. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    Don't stop.

    Stonetree February 3rd, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    This I might read. The paragraph begs to be read aloud. Spill, what's the title?

    kcb February 4th, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    I don't care so much who the author is or what the title is; I want to know who the narrator is. S/he says some bizarre things; ultimately, s/he has never done anything alone, is well loved, and may or may not get a chance to do all of the things she lists (i.e. may or may not live). I think the narrator is a fetus. Which is potentially pretty interesting. But I fear it is a political book with an agenda. I hope I'm wrong.

    alexis February 4th, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    I cannot believe you managed to put "Chick Lit" and "Joni Mitchell" in the same paragraph. Daring. Impressive. Your skills far surpass those of the mystery writer.

    And thank you for not rhyming.

    Brockman February 6th, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Hey, wait... you never gave us the answer to the FIRST first paragraph!

    Dave (Post Author) February 6th, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Answers are added to the bottom of each original post. To see the identity of the previous paragraph, go here and scroll to the "Update" notation.

    Georgie February 7th, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, I think I would read further -- if only to disover who the narrator is. But as kcb says, further reading would be dependent on who that narrator was (and yup -- foetus narrator rules out any further reading -- Kate Atkinson covered the conception part beautifully and hilariously already).

    Graeme Williams February 23rd, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Get me rewrite!

    Cut the last sentence and the paragraph achieves lift-off. Are there no editors any more?

    Silver March 6th, 2006 at 4:38 am

    First thought off of this paragraph, it is odd, very odd. I would keep reading though if only to find out who it is that is narrating.

    liyana June 18th, 2006 at 12:58 am

    i know what's the title and who's the author of that book.
    its lucky,'cause i have that book.
    the title of the book is "The Girls", by Lori Lansens.

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