Friday, September 14, 2012

The Hook #3: An Analysis of a Favorite First Line

As we continue to post our favorite first lines, we encourage you to share yours. Next Wednesday, September 19th, we will compile your favorite first lines into a poll on our Facebook fan page to decide the favorite of favorites. Not only will the contributor of this quote receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card, but they will also be crowned Grand Champion of Quote Contribution.

Next up in our countdown, brought to us courtesy of John Steinbeck:
 "To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth." ~  The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck has managed to compress the thematic thrust of the next several hundred pages into all of  25 words. Destruction. Migration. Rehabilitation. The sentence is a declaration of movement, delivering us to a world that is anything but still. The Joad family, uprooted from their Oklahoman farm (escaping this, among other things), migrates west to California, spurred on by a stubborn optimism that pervades the novel. Their story is that of hundreds of thousands of Midwestern migrants forced from their land by merciless banks and the (even more merciless) Dust Bowl. As often happens, such shitty situations only get shittier: grandparents die, labor is exploited, goodhearted people are met with rancor and spite, fiances and brothers disappear, and babies are miscarried. For all that, though, Steinback leaves us with hope - and not the weak kind that's mostly a halfhearted lie. It is a feeling that echoes from the first words on the first page, carried on simple, rhythmic prose, engaging us from start to finish.


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