First Lines of the 20 Under 40

There’s been much blog ado over The New Yorker‘s “Summer Fiction: 20 Under 40.” Check out the gnashing here, here and here (we promise to complain more in a later post). However the writers learned their craft, they learned to write first sentences well. In fact, we found the lead sentence to be the best part of most of the stories. Clue to craft: Those with the least interesting first sentences tended to be the least interesting stories. As a service to our readers, we’ve taken the first sentence of each of the eight stories and put them together in no particular order, to make a free-association poem of a quality no more dubious than the stories themselves.–Cabbage Rabbit

Max had a name for what had happened to his son: the Accident.

The boy and his twin brother grew up on the streets of Northside,

down in the little choke valley, befouled by industry,

between university hill to the southeast and the neighborhood to the north,

College Hill, which had no college, despite its name,

only modest white houses hinting at the white suburbs to come.

The boy wore a black parka, a matching ski cap, bluejeans, and sneakers;

he appeared to be five years old; and he was weeping.

He hadn’t heard from Kate Lotvelt in two weeks. Early yet, the morning clouds,

the color of silver fox,

and Lazarus was running. Lucky diary! Undeserving diary!

People say no one reads anymore, but I find that’s not the case.