Great First Lines in Canadian Books

tagged : first lines

The first line. It sets the tone, it reveals a little of the author's personality and intention, and it can be the difference between an excited entry into a book or a trepidatious one. It can be marvelous or shocking in and of itself, or its brilliance may reveal itself only once the entire book has been consumed and reflected upon. Here are some beauties chosen by us and our friends and fans who contributed lines via Twitter.


"Air this thin turns anyone into a mystic." 
Every Lost Country by Steven Heighton


"Separately, suddenly, Clive and Viv remember the smell of pine trees."
Love and the Mess We're In by Stephen Marche


“There’s no way round it, I’m finding it very hard to be a widow, I told Grief, the counsellor woman, that Tuesday morning.” 
Malarky by Anakana Schofield


“I seem to have trouble dying.”
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill


“The French painter and writer Paul Gauguin—by most accounts mad, bad
and dangerous to know—suffered acutely from cosmological vertigo
induced by the work of Darwin and other Victorian scientists.” 
A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright


"We fall out of bed and into our rags, still crusted with the grime of yesterday." 
Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill


“The river flowed both ways.” 
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence


"Harry was in his little house on the edge of Back Bay when at half past twelve her voice came over the radio for the first time." 
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay


"I have never looked into my sister's eyes." 
The Girls by Lori Lansens


"Twenty-eight bones make up the human hand." 
Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson


"Even from such a distance Fine Man could smell their camp, the fried-pig stink of white men." 
The Englishman's Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe


"You are the kind of guy who falls in love after one date."
You Comma Idiot by Doug Harris


"She wants to write a book about the wind, about the weather."
Changing Heaven by Jane Urquhart


"They're all dead now."
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald


"My lifelong involvement with Mrs Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old."
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies


"When there was no Pepsi left for my rye whisky, nieces, there was always ginger ale."
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden


"I used to dream about my mother, and though the details in the dream varied, the surprise it in was always the same."
Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro

"It was July and that afternoon we were in the crystal blue heart of a perfect summer."
Emotional Arithmetic by Matt Cohen 

August 21, 2013
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