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Friday, September 23, 2011

Funny weather.....

The weather today reminds me of those hot winds we used to get in Southern California: the Santa Ana winds. As kids, we kind of reveled in that weather; walking to school felt exhilarating, with the wind blowing hot air down our necks. We got giddy. We jumped in our seats. There was also a hint of danger; anything could happen. Our parents looked distracted, as if thinking of times and places far away--lost friends, lost selves.

The master crime novelist, Raymond Chandler, got it just right in his story "Red Wind." I often think of this memorable opening paragraph when the weather turns like this:

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

What are some memorable opening paragraphs of books you love?

3 comments:

  1. "You saw me before I saw you. in the airport, that day in August, you had that look in your eyes, as though you wanted something from me, as though you'd wanted it for a long time. No one had ever looked at me like that before, with that kind of intensity. It unsettled me, surprised me, I guess. Those blue, blue eyes, icy blue, looking back at me as if I could warm them up. They're pretty powerful. you know, those eyes, pretty beautiful, too." Stolen by Lucy Christopher

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  2. "Seymour didn't want money--he wanted love--so he stole a pistol from the hot plate old man living in the next apartment, then drove over to the International House of Pancakes, the one on Third, and ordered everyone to lie down on the floor."

    - from a short story, not a novel, by Sherman Alexie called "South by Southwest" from the collection _The Toughest Indian in the World_.

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