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Three more awesome openers

I was talking about books with a friend at the coffee shop the other day and the subject of Catcher In The Rye came up. As we were talking about its opening sentence, I felt like the guy in the old V8 commercials who slaps himself on the forehead and says "I could have had a V8!". I couldn't believe I didn't think about it when I made my "awesome openers" post a few weeks ago.

It takes a certain audacity to start a book with the words "If you really want to hear about it". The author is effectively saying to the reader "Here's my story...take it or leave it." Given the continuing success of the book, the gamble clearly paid off.

While I'm on the subject, there are a couple of "honorable mention" openers I should include. I love the opening line of Forrest Gump:

"Let me say this: being a idiot is no box of chocolates"

I read the book before the movie came out and just fell in love with that sentence. It became my favorite metaphor for anything unpleasant. Then the movie came out and ruined it. I am usually not one to jump up and down and scream that the book was better than the movie. But I make an exception here.

You'll notice that the famous line from the movie starts with "my mama says." I'm pretty sure that's because the scriptwriter realized Forrest was too dumb to come up with a clever metaphor like that. The original line was simpler and something he could have come up with himself.

And the movie version of the line is nowhere near as profound as people think it is. It sounds like a lovely sentiment at first, but it's really just a sweet, pretty way of saying that life is random. It's sugar coated rat poison. It's the ugliest pig in the pen wearing the most expensive lipstick.

I hadn't thought about it before, but the line in the movie is almost the exact opposite of the line in the book. The line in the book says that being stupid doesn't work so well. The line in the movie says that you can't know what's going to happen, so you might as well be "a idiot" like Forrest Gump.

Not me. I know that's no box of chocolates.

Finally, the opening line of Jude Wanniski's The Way The World Works deserves mentioning:

" It is probably safe to say that most voters believe they are smarter than the average voter."

It's very thought provoking. And this is a book on economics. Books on economics are not known for their snappy prose. And they're certainly not known for awesome openers. The Way The World Works is a noteworthy exception.