aside Read This!

“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.

Write soon.



  1. I have tried twice to read this book, but have not been able to…. Wonder why? must add it to my 2013 list. Thanks for the encouragement. ….. Cannot call any opening sentences to beat all opening sentences to mind right now, but will keep an eye out to see what others post. 🙂


    • GGM is an incomparable author, but perhaps some of his short stories would serve as a better introduction to his writings. Also, some amazing other Latin American writers of magical realism who may be easier to start with. I really love Isabelle Allende and Jorge Amado. Great reading! ~and great choice JWD!! I look forward to reading more.


      • Hi Peaceful, thanks for reading and for the comments. You have given me a couple of great authors there to check out, my wife agrees that they are top notch, so I better investigate!


  2. Oh, wonderful! My comment was really for bodkimoments, in thought that they may be more accessible than GGM, but if you are interested in magical realism they are great, as is Louis de Bernieres!


  3. I have to admit I have not read the book, but I agree it’s a great opening line. Even though my choice of book does not have quite as good an opening line, I love my book and it’s my all time favorite. But I give you kudos on yours. 🙂


    • Hi Jackie, what I really love about this challenge is the way it’s got everyone talking about all these different great reads. Thanks for stopping by and taking the trouble to comment.


  4. Hi James. That is a great opener. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” has been on my “to be read” list for a long time (I almost said 100 years, but…). Am just starting a blog, and taking the Blogging 101 class when I came across this writing idea, which led me to your blog post. I also like you blog title, lol, it worked! Anyway, I’m going to use the first line, “I sit writing this in the kitchen sink.” Which is from “I capture the Castle,” another book that is on my list to read (hmmm…I’m starting to feel like I’m not very well read). Anyway, I enjoyed your post, thanks for that.


    • Hi Mary, thank you reading and commenting on my post, good luck with blogging classes I am sure you will get a lot out of them and if you do get the chance to read ‘100 years of solitude’ I am sure you will enjoy it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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