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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From The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

Cashin walked around the hill, into the wind from the sea. It was cold, late autumn, last glowing leaves clinging to the liquidambars and maples his great-grandfather's brother had planted, their surrender close. He loved this time, the morning stillness, loved it more than spring.
The dogs were tiring now but still hunting the ground, noses down, taking more than a sniff, less hopeful. Then one picked up a scent and, new life in their legs, they loped in file for the trees, vanished.
Most of the stuff I am reading right now is technical... little chance of something being stated that would draw for entertainment value. Hopefully, the summer time will be more companionable in that regard.

Thanks for asking.
Love the title, and the illustrations: "to where they shot that guy last year." Great way to illustrate the concept.

I'd be right there, except I rarely read books that noir. :-/

Monday, December 29, 7:00 P.M.

The sun had gone down. But then again, it tended to do that from time to time. He should get up and turn on a light.

But he liked the darkness. Liked the way it was quiet and still. The way it could hide a man. Inside and out. He was such a man. Hidden. Inside and out. All by himself.

I'm Watching You by Karen Rose
The human head is the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I hve neer before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan. But here are forty of them, one per pan, resting face-up on hwat looks to be a small pet-food bowl. the heads are for pastic surgeions, two per head, to practice on. I'm observingv a facial anatomy and face-lift refresher course, sponsored by a southern university medical center and led by a half-dozen of America's most sought-after face-lifters.

The heads have been put in roasting pans--which are of the disposable aluminum variety--for the same reason chickens are put in roasting pans: to catch the drippings. Surgery, even surgery upon the dead, is a tidy, orderly affair.

Stiff by Mary Roach
Can we quote from books not out yet??? Well I will until I know differently :-)

If Ronnie Wilson had known, as he woke up, that in just a couple of hours' time he would be dead, he would have planned his day somewhat differently.
For a start he might not have bothered to shave. Or wasted many of those last precious minutes gelling his hair, then messing around with it until he was satisfied. Nor would he have spent quite so long polishing his shoes, or getting the knot in his expensive silk tie absolutely right. And he sure as hell would not have paid an exorbitant eighteen dollars-which he really could not afford- for the one-hour service to have his suit pressed.

Dead Man's Footsteps by Peter James
Ayaan shoved the helicopter's cargo loading door open with one booted foot, and dry desert air rushed into the body of the helicopter. The aircraft obbled and soldiers grabbed for stanchions and nylon loops to steady themselves, but Ayaan just shifted her footing. The warrior stuck her head out into the blue sky, the graying ringlets of her hair bouncing in the wind. Her face wrinkled as she squinted at the burning sands. There were people down there-alive or dead, she couldn't tell-and they were advancing in the direction of her encampment. For once this was no false alarm. "Get me close apporach," she shouted.

-Monster Planet, by David Wellington.
I'm reading some non-fiction right now, but how about a paragraph out of a favorite.

Cañon del Espiritu,

Southern Ute Reservation

Yesterday the Ute woman had only felt the creature’s approach, the same way she divined the threat of a thunderstorm long before it danced across the mesas on spider legs of lightning. Today, she could smell the musky odors of his lean body. As she watched the sun fall toward its nightly repose in the bosom of the blue mists, the shaman could distinctly hear the beast’s panting breaths, the soft padding of his paws.

Darkness was the preferred companion of the beast, and darkness already wrapped its arms around the pleated skirt of Three Sisters Mesa. The unrelenting creature moved ever closer. Yogovuch trotted up the dusty arroyo at the base of the sprawling mesa, then through the fragrant thickets of sage and into the forest of gnarled piñon. The woman hadn’t actually seen the dwarf’s messenger, but his presence was palpable. The limber beast, with scarlet tongue draped over black lips, was approaching her trailer house in brazen fashion, and she was offended by this display of arrogance. Daisy Perika steeled herself and pulled the worn cotton blanket around her stooped shoulders. She stood on the unpainted porch and gripped the pine railing. Daisy waited expectantly for Coyote, servant of pitukupf, to speak to her of his elfin master’s business. When it came, the eerie sound startled the woman.

“Yiiiooouuuwww . . . aaaooouuu . . . iiieeeooo” the beast yodeled to the shaman. The somber summons fell on ears that refused to listen.

The Shaman Sings by James D. Doss, the Ute Tony Hillerman
I am currently working on my spiritual life -- too much A Haunting -- I guess.

I am reading a book by Joyce Meyer. Battlefield of the Mind.

From this scripture (Eph. 6:12) we see that we are in a war. A careful study of this verse informs us that our warfare is not with other human beings but with the devil and his demons. Our enemy, Satan, attempts to defeat us with strategy and deceit, through well-laid plans and deliberate deception.

The devil is a liar. Jesus called him ...the father of lies and of all that is false (John 8:44). He lies to you and me. He tells us things about ourselves, about other people and about circumstances that are just not true. He does not, however, tell us the entire lie all at one time.

He begins by bombarding our mind with a cleverly devised pattern of little nagging thoughts, suspicions, doubts, fears, wonderings, reasonings and theories. He moves slowly and cautiously (after all, well-laid plans take time). Remember, he has a strategy for his warfare. He has studied us for a long time.

He knows what we like and what we don't like. He knows are insecurities, our weaknesses and our fears. He knows what bothers us most. He is willing to invest any amount of time it takes to defeat us. One of the devils strong points is patience.
When Cynthia woke up, it was so quiet in the house she thought it must be a Saturday.
If Only.
If there'd ever been a day that she needed to be a Saturday, to be anything but a school day, this was it. Her stomach was still doing the occasional somersault, her head was full of cement and it took some effort to keep it from falling forward on to her shoulders
Jesus, what the hell was that in the waste-paper basket next to the bed? She couldn't even remember throwing up in the night, but if she needed evidence, there it was.

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
THE FALL OF NESKAYA, Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J Ross

"Coryn Leynier woke from a dream of fire sweeping down from the heights. The dream had begun peacefully enough, buth with an unusual vividness, as were so many of his dreams since his body had begun changing with adolescence. At first, his glider hovered beneath Darkover's great Bloody Sun, its silken sails spread wide over fragile wooden struts. Last summer, his eldest brother Eddard, who was heir to the mountainous Verdanta lands, had shown him how to ride the air currents for short distances. In his dream, Coryn soared freely. He felt no fear of the height, only pleasure in the limitless heavens."

This postumous Bradley book isn't as much to my taste as the ones she wrote by herself. I don't connect with it emotionally so much, because the relationships don't come across as warmly.
Death surrounded her. She faced it daily, dreamed of it nightly. Lived with it always. She knew its sounds, its scents, even its texture. She could look it in its dark and clever eye without a flinch. One flinch, one blink, and it could shift, it could change. It could win.



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