First line favourites

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but they didn't say anything about opening lines, which are surely fair game. For it seems to me that if the author can't take the trouble, or hasn't got the nous, to sculpt those words from which all the rest flow, then they probably won't have taken the trouble in all those other key moments of the text when the interpretative pressure is at its highest, when the duty to capture a whole fictional world in a single breath is at its most pressing. Screw up the opening, screw up the book. Like chess, it's really that simple.

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