Book: The Heather Blazing, Colm Toibin. First pub. Picador 1992. This ed. Picador 1993.
Why: I’ve been looking for good examples of opening paragraphs, and this seems to fit the bill.
Of course there’s no better opening than Lights Out in Wonderland, by DBC Pierre, ( just my opinion remember ) but this has it all:
-A character name that makes you feel like you’re saying ‘Mmmm Mmmm’ like you’re having a good time;
-action rather than reminiscing, reminiscing is nice but an act to place you there with the character is great;
-a time – Friday morning end of July;
-a place – looking out a window at a river in Dublin;
-a job – law related;
-and it even gives you a sense of state of mind – contemplative, using words like ‘stillness’ and ‘quiet’.
Add to that a bit of colour – brown and grey;
Within a couple more paragraphs he adds a suggestion of a bit of danger, bombs and balls of fire, and a question for us to ponder – a ruling on a court case. It’s all there in the first two pages.
Eamon Redmond stood at the window looking down at the river which was deep brown after days of rain. He watched the colour, the mixture of mud and water, and the small currents and pockets of movement within the flow. It was a Friday morning at the end of July; the traffic was heavy on the quays. Later, when the court had finished its sitting he would come back and look out once more at the watery grey light over the houses across the river and wait for the stillness, when the cars and lorries had disappeared and Dublin was quiet.