Brilliant Beginnings!

Have you ever picked up a book that reeled you in with its first line? Many books fit that description for me, so when Holly (aka hollycm6) hosted a “Brilliant Beginnings” swap for the Cup and Chaucer group on swap-bot I was all in!

Swappers were to send a postcard with a favorite first line to two partners. I received two postcards today and one a few days ago.

The first to arrive was a handmade, mixed media card by none other than the mixed media queen, Diane W (aka midteacher).

Mixed Media by Diane W. (midteacher)

She appropriately paired her handmade postcard with an Edgar Allan Poe beginning from “To Science, A Prologue to Al Aaraaf”

SCIENCE! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

Shelby (aka Shellbee8), a new swapper to me, sent a Notre Dame postcard with two classic beginnings–Charles Dickens’ familiar lines from A Tale of Two Cities and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot:

Notre Dame, Paris

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.  -Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Nothing to be done. –[Estragon] Beckett, Waiting for Godot

I received a bonus card from Holly (yay!). Happy mail dance! Thank you, Holly!

She wrote on the bookish postcard two quotes from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine–one from the introduction:

This book, like most of my books and stories, was a surprise.

And of course, the first line of chapter 1:

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed.

I haven’t read this one, but Holly wrote a micro review that compelled me to add it to my “to be read” list:

[This is] such a beautiful, sweet book, one that makes the world a better place because it exists.

There’s no way I can pass up a book that “makes the world a better place.”

My own brilliant first line came from Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. That book! Not only did it give me a memorable first line but it also helped me find words for my struggle with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre:

They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. But we were not in their ranks. The Jamaican ladies had never approved of my mother, ‘because she pretty like pretty self,’ Christophine said.

What about you? What are the first lines that kept you turning pages?

A Last Nearby Song: Ending Autumn with Haiku

“Native Awareness.” Photo by Gale D. (grstamping on swap-bot)

I just completed the novel The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault. It’s the kind of read one can finish in one sitting, but it took me a couple of days because I read slowly while waiting in the carpool line or just before falling asleep. The book is based on the Zen concept of ensō. It feels a lot like Kafka, whose absurdist works I love, but it also feels like haiku, which is a prominent feature of the novel.

And that might be the reason I returned to my favorite book of haiku and have been reading haiku all week. However, [Kobayashi] Issa’s poem, which I didn’t see in the collection, is worthy of the last day of autumn:

evening cicada–
a last nearby song
to autumn

Gale D’s photos are brilliant reminders of the best of the season and an appropriate end to the autumn posts for the week. The photos were sent for an “A Thousand Words” group swap. The top photo was shot in Mattawa, Canada. The photo below in Orillia.

“Drive by in Orillia.” Photo by Gale D. (grstamping on swap-bot)

Somehow, the novel set in Canada, the Japanese haiku, and photos captured in Canada come together and make perfect sense for the last day of autumn–in my mind at least. 😉