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Famous First Lines?
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Famous First Lines?

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Much like the first impression of a person, the first line of a book can tell you almost everything you need to know about your imminent literary journey. What novels have captivated you with a single sentence? For extra credit, go ahead...

Much like the first impression of a person, the first line of a book can tell you almost everything you need to know about your imminent literary journey. What novels have captivated you with a single sentence?

For extra credit, go ahead and choose a sound or video as the accompanying media that you think conveys the tone of the opening sentence, or how you feel when reading it.
Allyson Gronowitz
Feb 24, 2015
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Christine Brooke-Rose - Amalgamemnon, 1984
Ericka

Christine Brooke-Rose's shift from satire to experimental fiction

"I shall soon be quite redundant at last despite of all, as redundant as you after queue and as totally predictable, information-content zero."

The above first sentence is the opening line of the late Christine Brooke-Rose's Amalgamemnon, which is an experimental fiction novel I read during my 20s. Brooke-Rose was a British writer who moved to France, and I find more discussion about her works from sources in her native England -- and almost nothing about her here in the States. Amalgamemnon touches on a number of subjects well ahead of its time: the hegemonic aspect of the academic industrial complex; the need to create a new language to describe the intersection of humanity and technological innovation via computers; the usage of portmanteaus to describe complex ideas; finding the meaning of life as major paradigm shifts are occurring. Brooke-Rose isn't an easy read, but what helped me with this book was that I had read William Gibson's Neuromancer and was reading Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation along with Jean-François Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition. So I guess you could say I kind of had a head start, so to speak. If I were teaching a class about humanity vs technology in literature, this book would be juxtaposed with Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine (nonfiction). Brooke-Rose, who passed away three years ago, also wrote another book entitled Textermination. If you like the idea of a portmanteau, wait until you read this book. Sometimes Brooke-Rose squeezes three words into one word. Example: "discompromisecourse," which appears on pg. 140 of the Dalkey Archive edition. There has been a reprinting since then. Great book.
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