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Old 11-15-2011   #31
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Re: Great Opening Lines

'Swounds! The good doctor beat me to it! I had "The House of Sounds" at mine fingertips and ready to transcribe, I did. I take your Shiel and raise you another:

Three days ago! by heaven, it seems an age. But I am shaken--my reason is debauched. A while since, I fell into a momentary coma precisely resembling an attack of petit mal. "Tombs, and worms, and epitaphs”--that is my dream. At my age, with my physique, to walk staggery, like a man stricken! But all that will pass: I must collect myself--my reason is debauched. Three days ago! it seems an age! I sat on the floor before an old cista full of letters. I lighted upon a packet of Cosmo’s. Why, I had forgotten them! they are turning sere! Truly, I can no more call myself a young man. I sat reading, listlessly, rapt back by memory. To muse is to be lost! of that evil habit I must wring the neck, or look to perish. Once more I threaded the mazy sphere-harmony of the minuet, reeled in the waltz, long pomps of candelabra, the noonday of the bacchanal, about me.

-- M. P. Shiel, "Xélucha"


PS. Lovecraft referred to this tale as "a noxiously hideous fragment".
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Old 11-15-2011   #32
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Re: Great Opening Lines

At the time of the shortest, sleepy winter days, edged on both sides with the furry dusk of mornings and evenings, when the city reached out ever deeper into the labyrinth of winter nights, and was shaken reluctantly into consciousness by the short dawn, my father was already lost, sold and surrendered to the other sphere.

- Bruno Schulz: Cinnamon Shops

or maybe

Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, --as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? --from the covenant of peace a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.

- Poe: Berenice
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Old 11-15-2011   #33
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Re: Great Opening Lines

The forest was ablaze.

From horizon to horizon stretched a wall of smoke and flame, staining the night sky red and blotting out the stars. Vegetation shriveled and was instantly consumed; great trees toppled shrieking toward the earth, dying gods before an angry gale, and the sound of their destruction was like the roaring of a thousand winds.

-- T. E. D. Klein, The Ceremonies (1984)
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Old 11-15-2011   #34
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Re: Great Opening Lines

Came the yellow days of winter, filled with boredom. The rust-coloured earth was covered with a threadbare, meagre tablecloth of snow full of holes. There was not enough of it for some of the roofs and so they stood there, brown and black, shingle and thatch, arks containing the sooty expanses of attics--coal-black cathedrals, bristling with ribs of rafters, beams, and spars--the dark lungs of winter winds. Each new dawn revealed chimney stacks and chimney pots which had emerged during the hours of darkness, blown up by the night winds; the black pipes of a devil's organ. The chimney sweeps could not get rid of the crows which in the evening covered the branches of the trees around the church with living black leaves, then took off, fluttering, and came back, each clinging to its own place on its own branch, only to fly away at dawn in large flocks, like gusts of soot, flakes of dirt, undulating and fantastic, blackening with their insistent crowing the musty yellow streaks of light. The days hardened with cold and boredom like last year's loaves of bread. One began to cut them with blunt knives without appetite, with a lazy indifference.

-- Bruno Schulz, "Birds" (trans. Celina Wieniewska)
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Old 11-15-2011   #35
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Re: Great Opening Lines

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.

Ruth Rendell, A Judgement in Stone
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Old 11-23-2011   #36
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Re: Great Opening Lines

Like a ghost stalking across a battlefield, permeable to spears and answering gouts, I invaded the diaphanous clamour of bats and asps (and the deposit of evaporated shrieks and hisses which archive their casual deaths) vulnerable only to fears and the shadows of fears radiating from the horrible house on the hill's crest. The faint lights blinking from its windows were as vacant and feeble as stars, and the paraphrased spectrum of moonlight grazing this choppy landscape kept all its discoveries to itself. The shrubbery I waded through glutted darkness under noon; chuckling stones evaded my feet, scuttling and yawing into the thicker night like living things. Chaotic sarsens thrust up everywhere reminded me that of all the energies expended here, out of the cratones and the helical histories of men, only the stone house remained--- that some coherent spirit--- some frightful worm of time--- was here able to conjoin the longitude of life with the chill and pallor of death.

-- William Scott Home, "The Lamps Are Lighted in the House of Hides" (from Hollow Faces, Merciless Moons)
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Old 12-02-2011   #37
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Re: Great Opening Lines

In this old apartment, spacious rooms had been sliced to cubicles where the staccato chatter of the inmates, relayed like tom-tom messages, mingled with the crash of irreconcilable radios. For the moment it was so quiet I thought to be alone in the place. The unlifting evening of back rooms in crowded areas deepened. The page I wrote became hazy; resting awhile, I looked up at my bit of ceiling. The moulding, like a monorail into the unknown, streaked through a false wall into the visibility of other lodgings.

-- Mina Loy, "The Agony of the Partition"
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Old 01-13-2012   #38
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Re: Great Opening Lines

"The extraordinary is a province of the solitary soul. Lost the very moment the crowd comes into view, it remains within the great hollows of dreams, an infininitely secluded place that prepares itself for your arrival, and for mine."
-- Thomas Ligotti, "The Sect of the Idiot."
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Old 01-13-2012   #39
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Re: Great Opening Lines

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."

The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
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Old 01-15-2012   #40
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Re: Great Opening Lines

MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, --as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? --from the covenant of peace a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.

--Edgar Allan Poe, "Berenice"

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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