“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
How do you begin to top that for an opening line? It says so much and hints at even more. In one dramatic sentence we have been told that the Colonel will one day face the firing squad, that he has many years until that happens, and that he is about to have a rather unusual introduction to frozen water.
Why does this man end up in front of the firing squad? What kind of life did this man live? How is it that something as ordinary for the average person as the introduction to ice can become an event of such lifelong importance? In that one simple sentence there are two stories that immediately pique your interest, two great hooks.
Anyone who has read the work of this literary giant will immediately know it for the opening to that modern classic which should be on everybody’s must read list: One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This book is quite probably my all-time number one, and this is certainly my favourite opening line.
When you allow your imagination to board a ship steered by Gabriel Garcia Marquez you can be sure that what is mundane and ordinary will become unique and wondrous. The fantastic, the improbable and the down right impossible you will embrace and believe as his characters do, as I did. Prepare to suspend your disbelief because however outrageous the text, the integrity of the writer’s words, present throughout this book leave you with no choice but to believe.
There. That’s my little gush, if you haven’t read it yet, why ever not? Tell you what, why don’t you tell me what you thought of it? Do you know a better opener? If you do I would like to hear it, paste it into the comments with the name of the book and the author, and if I agree with you I will hold my hands up.