First Impressions

"For the rest of her life, Charlotte Cleve would blame herself for her son's death because she had decided to have Mother's Day dinner at six in the evening instead of noon, after church, which is when the Cleves usually had it."
So begins The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. Librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl considers this a great first line, a first line that compels the reader forward into the thick of the Cleve family's tragedy. Other compelling first lines: Christopher Morley's Parnassus on Wheels, Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, and even a slightly morbid nonfiction work, Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. But there must be others...

Pearl also mentioned these works with great first lines:
James Crumley--The Last Good Kiss
Susan Orlean--The Orchid Thief (the film Adaptation was based on this book)
L.P. Hartley--The Go-Between

What other memorable first lines have sucked you into a book or stayed with you long after reading?


"There was a lion on the deck of the boat."

Donald Barthelme's short stories are always good for stunning first lines.