On the excellent 4MA mailing list, one of the standard questions each month is "What is the first paragraph on Page X of the book you are reading?" I get loads of book recommendations that way, so I thought I would start a similar discussion here, as I am always looking for suggestions for books to read.

So what is the first paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading?

I've just started TO KISS OR KILL by Day Keene from 1951. Here's the first few paragraphs as they are short:

'You never can tell what a big tough Polish boy will do when he finds a nude blonde in his bathroom. Especially if he is a heavyweight fighter who was born back of the yards, is married to a million dollars, and has a psychiatric record.

He might do a number of things. He might tell her to get out. He might yell for his wife. He might blow what's left of his top. He might even do what Barney Mandell did, come to his addled senses.

It really happened, in Chicago. It happened to Barney Mandell on the afternoon on the day he was released from the asylum as cured, because he hadn't wrung a parrot's neck in two years.

Oh, yes. The nude blonde was dead.'

Isn't that marvellous? What a start. Tells you enough about Barney Mandell to make you want to know more.

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Tongue-in-cheek, Daniel, in the spirit of the book. No need for punishment. :)

I'm still not sure about that punctuation, though, LOL.
Tongues in both cheeks from this side of the globe, too. :)
They're both full stops - I had to check though :o) The section IS in italics though, serial killers can only write in italics :o)
serial killers can only write in italics :o)

LOL. That cracked me up, Donna.

Hey, just give the punctuation a better copyeditor. It sounds original and funny.
Jeez Daniel, that gave me a shock! That's the only book in this thread I DON'T want to read :o) Jude and John - you're right - it's totally amateurish and the author just throws in punctuation willy; nilly, when he, or she - feels...like: it. Vincent - I've warned you. Don't buy it.I don't want to have to warn you a third time. Jools - the only way to read it is with cocktails, blindfolded.
Sorry to shock, Donna, but it's completely true that I got the package today. :)
Here's something odd. The first three books I picked up had paragraphs that went on for so long I am too lazy to type them. Wasn't The Road one long paragraph. Is this a new or old trend?
I know what you mean Patricia and in general I prefer shorter paragraphs, but how about this little piece of magic - it's from Daniel Woodrell's TOMATO RED (a wonderful book, as all Woodrells are). This isn't just a first paragraph - it's a first SENTENCE.

You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company in your gloom, and since you're fresh to West Table, Mo., and a new hand at the dog-food factory; your choices for company are narrow but you find some finally in a trailer court on Last Main, and the coed circle of bums gathered there spot you a beer, then a jug of tequila starts to rotate and the rain keeps comin' down with a miserable bluesy beat and there's two girls millin' about that probably can be had but they seem to like certain things and crank is one of those certain things and a fistful of party straws tumble from a woven handbag somebody brung, the crank gets cut into lines, and the next time you notice the time it's three or four Sunday mornin' and you ain't slept since Thursday night and one of the girl voices, the one you want most and ain't had yet though her teeth are the size of shoe-peg corn and look like maybe they'd taste sort of sour, suggests something to do, 'cause with crank you want something, anything, to do, and this cajoling voice suggests we all rob this certain house on this certain street in that rich area where folks can afford to wallow in their vices and likely have a bunch of recreational dope stashed around the mansion and goin' to waste since an article in The Scroll said the rich people whisked off to France or some such on a noteworthy vacation.

I love it.
I just had all Woodrell's books out and nary a bad first paragraph in the bunch. I have spent the last hour looking at first paragraohs, in fact. Many go downhill after a dynamite first sentence. Woodrell is a genius, no?
I wonder if we would find much to linger with in last paragraphs, which so often sum up the story (by necessity, of course) rather than set a mood. And no one has to persuade readers to continue at the end.
He is indeed a genius. He deserves to be much much better known too. There are some great last paragraphs, but most are only great because I've read the rest of the book, so it means that much more to me than to someone who hasn't read it. Plus loads of them would give away what had happened - and are of the "Reader I married him" type.
Woodrell is indeed a genius. Whether it's his Ozark Noir novels or his earlier Rene Shade series. I also recommend WOE TO LIVE ON, for its stark and brutal portrayal of the Civil War along the Kansas-Missouri border, as seen through the eyes of a group of teenage Jayhawers/bushwackers.


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