Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Opening Sentences of the Day: The Beggar and Changing Places

"White clouds floated in the blue expanse overlooking a vast green land where cows grazed serenely. " -- The Beggar by Naguib Mahfouz. Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for literature. I am trying to read at least one book by every Nobel Laureate. The Beggar was the first Malfouz book to make it on to my TBR shelf. Not famous like his Cairo Trilogy, this is a 1965 novella about contemporary (1965) Egypt. So far, The Beggar is a little sparse and a little vague, which is why I was lured into starting Changing Places by David Lodge. Opening sentence: "High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour." That's a good one. Lodge caught my attention with How Far Can You Go?, which made it on to Anthony Burgess's list of his favorite 99 novels and my list of favorites for 2008. This 1975 novel tracks an American and a British professor as they swap university spots for a semester.

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