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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

Charley Anderson lay in his bunk in a glary red buzz.
      - John Roderigo Dos Passos, The Big Money [1936],
        (3rd part of U.S.A. trilogy)

The young man walks fast by himself through the crowd that thins into the night streets; feet are tired from hours of walking; eyes greedy for warm curve of faces, answering flicker of eyes, the set of a head, the lift of a shoulder, the way hands spread and clench; blood tingles with wants; mind is a beehive of hopes buzzing and stinging; muscles ache for the knowledge of jobs, for the roadmender's pick and shovel work, the fisherman's knack with a hook when he hauls on the slithery net from the rail of the lurching trawler, the swing of a bridgeman's arm as he slings down the whitehot rivet, the engineer's slow grip wise on the throttle, the dirtfarmer's use of his whole body when, whoaing the mules, he yanks the plow from the furrow. The young man walks by himself searching through the crowd with greedy eyes, greedy ears taut to hear, by himself, alone.
      - John Roderigo Dos Passos, U.S.A. [1936],
        (a trilogy)

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.
  He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open.
      - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

In setting out to describe the recent and very strange events that took place in our town, hitherto not remarkable for anything, I am forced, for want of skill, to begin somewhat far back--namely, with some biographical details concerning the talented and much esteemed Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky. Let these details serve merely as an introduction to the chronicle presented here, while the story itself, which I am intending to relate, still lies ahead.
      - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons [1871] (pt. 1, ch. 1),
        (Pevear and Volokhonsky translation)

I am a sick man. . . . I am a spiteful man. I'm an unattractive man. I think there is something wrong with my liver.
      - Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
        Notes from the Underground

Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, a landowner well known in our district in his own day, and still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and tragic death, which happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper place. For the present I will only say that this "landowner"- for so we used to call him, although he hardly spent a day of his life on his own estate- was a strange type, yet one pretty frequently to be met with, a type abject and vicious and at the same time senseless. But he was one of those senseless persons who are very well capable of looking after their worldly affairs, and, apparently, after nothing else.
      - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Towards the end of November, during a warm spell, at around nine o'clock in the morning, a train of the Petersburg-Warsaw line was approaching Petersburg at full steam. It was so damp and foggy that dawn could barely break; ten paces to right or left of the line it was hard to make out anything at all through the carriage windows. Among the passengers there were some who were returning from abroad; but the third-class compartments were more crowded, and they were petty business folk from not far away. Everyone was tired, as usual, everyone's eyes had grown heavy overnight, everyone was chilled, everyone's face was pale yellow, matching the color of the fog.
      - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

It was two o'clock in the afternoon of the last Thursday in September, opening day of the fall semester.
      - Lloyd Cassell Douglas, Disputed Passage [1938]
         (ch. 1)

The new-laid harvest straw beneath the faded red carpet rustled crisply under Martha's shapeless felt slippers as she padded across the living-room to the cluttered mantle.
      - Lloyd Cassell Douglas,
        Forgive Us Our Trespasses [1932] (ch. 1)

Uncommonly sensitive to her owner's moods--for he had imputed personality to her--Dr. Paige's rakish blue coupe noted at a glance that this was one of those eventful mornings when she would be expected to steer her own course to Parkway Hospital.
      - Lloyd Cassell Douglas, Green Light [1935] (ch. 1)

It had lately become common chatter at Brightwood Hospital--better known for three hundred miles around Detroit as Hudson's Clinic--that the chief was all but dead on his feet.
      - Lloyd Cassell Douglas,
        Magnificent Obsession [1929]

After so long a pause that Marcia felt sure whoever it was must have gone away, the front doorbell rang again, a courteously brief 'still waiting.'
      - Lloyd Cassell Douglas, White Banners [1936]
         (ch. 1)

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
        A Scandal in Bohemia [1892]

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet [1887]

On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
        The Adventure of the Speckled Band [1892]

The approach to the offices of Girdlestone and Co. was not a very dignified one, nor would the uninitiated who traversed it form any conception of the commercial prosperity of the firm in question.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
        The Firm of Girdlestone [1890]

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
        The Hound of the Baskervilles [1902] (ch. 1)

Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth--a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self. If anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the thought of such a father-in-law.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World [1912]

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantel-piece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined armchair with a long sigh of satisfaction.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
        The Sign of the Four [1890]

"I am inclined to think--" said I.
  "I should do so," Sherlock Holmes remarked, impatiently.
    I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals, but I admit that I was annoyed at the sardonic interruption.
      "Really, Holmes," said I, severely, "you are a little trying at times."
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

The great bell of Beaulieu was ringing. Far away through the forest might be heard its musical clangor and swell.
      - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company [1891]

Dusk--of a summer night.
      - Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy [1925]

One morning, in the fall of 1880, a middle-aged woman, accompanied by a young girl of eighteen, presented herself at the clerk's desk of the principal hotel in Columbus, Ohio, and made inquiry as to whether there was anything about the place that she could do.
      - Theodore Dreiser, Jennie Gerhardt [1911]

When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small truck, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money.
      - Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie [1900]

In any group of men I have ever known, speaking from the point of view of character and not that of physical appearance, Peter would stand out as deliciously and irrefutably different. In the great waste of American intellectual dreariness he was an oasis, a veritable spring in the desert. He understood life. He knew men. He was free--spiritually, morally, in a thousand ways, it seemed to me.
      - Theodore Dreiser, Twelve Men [1919] (ch. 1)


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