Beginnings matter. Writers and English professors love to exchange their favorite first lines: “Call me Ishmael,” or “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
A well-crafted first line in an essay or book not only intrigues or “hooks” the reader, it also points to the theme. I had a colleague who loved to trace the structure of the whole book by dissecting the structure of the first paragraph.
Recently, a Facebook friend, Richard Kauffman, challenged his readers with this message: “find a more provocative opening line from a memoir than this: ‘The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.’–Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov. Or just post your favorite opening line/s from a memoir.”