Opening Lines – The Westing Game

We all know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover (yet, publishing companies spend big bucks on cover design/art). But, the opening sentence(s)/paragraph(s) are fair game. So, when I stumble on a good opening (or remember one and pull it off the shelves), I’ll throw it up here. Dare you not to read the rest of the book.

—–

The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!

Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shore five stories high. Five empty stories high.

Then one day (it happened to be the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.

The delivery boy was sixty-two years old, and there was no such person as Barney Northrup.

from The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Like any good novel (and this is a very good one), so much of the book is revealed in the opening paragraphs — not that we know that at the time, but in retrospect, it’s clear — we get the voice, we get themes, we get clues to the mystery (not that we know what the mystery is). As a kid, I got to that last line and was hooked. How could there not be such a person when the previous sentence said there was? What’s up with the Towers facing the wrong direction? What a strange book.

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