Friday, April 11, 2008

Playing Forward

Winter Landscape,
Aert van der Neer,
oil on canvas, c. 1650.
Cincinnati Art Museum.

The puck is loose! There's a pile-up in front of the net! Gramlich avoids a hip check and skates behind the net. He dekes and passes the puck to Harris coming in over the blue line. She shoots, she scores!

Great team effort!

Excuse me, the NHL Playoffs affect my mind.

The idea behind this quasi-meme contest, Paying It Forward, is encourage readers to discover new writers.

On Wednesday I scored in Charles's contest.

So I'm making a forward pass.

To enter:

Between now and April 30, in comments, post a line from a novel/short story by a contemporary writer which made you say: Oh crap, I wish I had written that.

No classics, please -- else I'll see multiples of "Call me Ishmael" and others of that ilk.

I'll pick the winner by hat trick.

The other condition is that you also make a forward pass of some sort to keep the game going.

Prizes: Your choice:

1. A $20 gift certificate.

2. A mass market or trade paperback from published in 2007/08 -- $20 limit, please.

(For example, Charles is ordering for me as my prize, December's (Stacia Kane) urban fantasy, Personal Demons.)

3. A signed copy of Weirdly: A Collection of Strange Stories, wot has init my short story, Stone Child.

The puck's at center ice.


bookfraud said...

when i started reading, i thought your post was going to be about hockey, and i was prepared to write some canadian hockey jokes like canada never winning the stanley cup anymore, pathetic old lines that my wife is sick of hearing. but no.

what a great idea for a contest. i've got a few candidates, but nothing to kill. but give me time.

but what am i going to do with $20 from

Precie said...

excellent! can't believe I missed Charles's contest, but I look forward to this one! I already have a few in mind but have to sort through some texts to get an exact quote.

you're so cool, b!

Bernita said...

You realize, Book, that we make up most of those jokes ourselves.

Thank you, Precie.
There's time.

Gabriele C. said...

Oh my, I haven't read a contemporary story in ages, and the few I remember from the time at university are in German or Swedish. :)

Bernita said...

I better amend that, Gabriele.
Mean by a contemporary writer.

Charles Gramlich said...

Since I just ran one I'm not going to enter yours, but I'll be following the results with high interest.

StarvingWriteNow said...

"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." --Deanna Raybourn, Silent In The Grave

Seriously, that one had me at hello.

SzélsőFa said...

Is M. Atwood considered a classic author? She's alive, so she's contemporary.

Here's my fav line:
Here and there are worms, evidence of the fertility of the soil, caught by the sun, half dead; flexible and pink, like lips.

Bernita said...

Atwood certainly is, Szelsofa.

Robyn said...

I don't know if you'd consider 1933 contemporary, but I've always loved Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man:

"Darling," I said, "my guess is that Wynant killed her, and the police'll catch him without my help. Besides I haven't the time: I'm too busy trying to see that you don't lose any of the money I married you for."

Lisa said...

This is a great idea for a contest! I may even have to think up one of my own for next month. I've recently read three debut novels that I really enjoyed, all by people who are not household names. Surely this will bring you much good Karma, Ms. Bernita :)

Bernita said...

Lisa, the good karma and credit goes to whoever initiated this project some time ago!

BernardL said...

How about this line from 'The Last Monarch', a book from Murphy & Sapir's Destroyer series: 'As the years of plastic surgery took their toll, her face began to take on the elongated look of an Easter Island statue'. :)

ChristineEldin said...

Bernita, This isn't one line. I can't find any single lines.

"I am gripped at the thighs by whatever feeling this is. A vague wind. It clutches at me, skitters between my clothes and my skin. It lifts my hair. It grazes my lip. And it is gone."

From THE GATHERING, Anne Enright, short listed for the Orange Prize

raine said...

Great idea for a contest!

Must think, go searching, and return...

Bernita said...

Keep those bunnies coming people!

Shauna Roberts said...

I'm enjoying the great lines people are posting.

I also won in Charles' contest and will be posting my version of Pay It Forward, tentatively to be called Mitzvah Madness, on Wednesday the 16th. Everyone is welcome to drop by for another chance to win books:

Bernita said...

Thank you, Shauna.

Another chance to get off the bench.

blogless_troll said...

"The trouble with being a god is that you've got no one to pray to."
--Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Suzanne Perazzini said...

What a great idea. Unfortunately I'm off to Italy and Egypt for three weeks so can't participate. See you when I get back.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, I'm going to have to wrack my brains, Ijust remember great books, not the lines.

But starving's example gets me at hello, too. I might have to buy that one.

Off to my other project. I'll get to this one later. Putting on thinking cap...


Sam said...

I just got done reading 'Stormy Weather' by Paulette Jiles. She has SO many good lines in this book I don't know where to start. But one line really hit me (it's set in the depression)

"It was just before the bank failures of 1933; and the rest of the nation paused, dumbfounded, in their party clothes and tinfoil hats, in Chicago and New york and Los Angeles and New Orleans, while money fell like hot ashes out of the bottoms of their pockets."

Anyway, it's a splendid book, with incredible writing and gorgeous prose and memorable characters, so if you get a chance, grab a copy!

Billy said...

Congrats on your win in Charles' contest! And what a cool contest you've got going here. I really have to overcome the dementia dn remember to enter -:)

Chumplet said...

Yay! Hockey! Go, Habs, Go!

Oh... ahem... back to the matter at hand.

In the spirit of the current theme, I quote from Original Six, a charming collection of short stories edited by Paul Quarrington.

This entry is from "Chicago Black Hawks" by Dave Bidini. It chronicles goalie Charlie Gardiner's last Stanley Cup moment, six weeks before he died of a lung infection:

"When the foghorn hollered to sound victory, I fell to my knees exhausted, the piss and sweat pouring out of me like rain as I looked across at the bench and saw the boys race toward me like loosed hounds."

Billy said...

Here's my entry from SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut:

"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."

Scott from Oregon said...

The opening paragraph to "The Horse's Mouth", Joyce Carey--

I was walking by the Thames. Half-past morning on an autumn day. Sun in a mist. Like an orange in a fried fish shop. All bright below. Low tide, dusty water and a crooked bar of straw, chicken-boxes, dirt and oil from mud to mud. Like a viper swimming in skim milk. The old serpent, symbol of nature and love.

Precie said...

Ok, here's my entry. I read Charles Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN recently, and it's tragically magnificient. I couldn't whittle down to a sentence (and I'll understand if it doesn't count because of the length)...but I do wish I'd written this, especially since I think it's a brilliant demonstration of Ruby's pragmatic and efficient character.

A song went around from fiddler to fiddler and each one added something and took something away so that in time the song became a different thing from what it had been, barely recognizable in either tune or lyric. But you could not say the song had been improved, for as was true of all human effort, there was never advancement. Everything added meant something lost, and about as often as not the thing lost was preferable to the thing gained, so that over time we’d be lucky if we just broke even. Any thought otherwise was empty pride.

Bernita said...

Precie,those few lines are fine.

Precie said...

Thanks, bernita! Smooches!

raine said...

One line! That is so hard!

Okay...there are whole passages from this work that make me sigh. But I chose this single line because I remembered it long afterward, and because I could SEE the image as I read it.

From "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury:

"The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out."

Anonymous said...

From Deerskin by Robin McKinley:

Lissar's eyes flew open, and she gave one great cry, and a burst of blood flowed from between her legs, thick, dark blood, not bright blood as from a clean wound as had flowed from her hands. This was the secret female blood, heavy with mystery, and it mixed with the more innocent blood already shed;...

moonrat said...

awesome idea!!

from THE SPANISH BOW by Andromeda Romano-Lax:

He appeared to be taking the news astonishingly well. "What lasts?" he asked rhetorically, as he had so many times before. Then he laughed. "Good looks, rarely. Money--never."

"And friendship?" I asked cautiously.

He fingered his mustache. "Sometimes. I suppose I'd put it in the same category as love: flawed and messy, and of questionable duration, and yet somehow irresistible."

writtenwyrdd said...

There are so many great lines, so I just settled on a great line from the current read, Swords of Talera by you-know-who, that Gramlich guy:

"Ah, to have men at your back who would as lief stick you as follow you. It is something to concentrate one's faculties, and damn scary, too."

Jeff said...

The opening line of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. (Noah Calhoun speaking from his room at the nursing home)
"The sun has come up and I am sitting by a window foggy with the breath of a life gone by."

spyscribbler said...

"Dick, I need a war."
~David Baldacci, The Whole Truth

I love it because it's a killer opening, with high concept and a whole book in a single line!

danceluvr said...

I have to post this one, which told me I was in for a fun read:

"Mr,. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Of course, that's the first line in the first Harry Potter book by JK Rowling

writtenwyrdd said...

I have to tell you I found a more memorable line. I cannot take credit for finding it first, because I got this book from a "tell me your favorite first line" blog post a while back. Anyhow, as follows from a lovely book, "Silent in the Grave" by Deanna Raybourn. (Opening line)

"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."

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