Quote-Unquote

“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts!

Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them.

A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! – of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”

Winston Churchill.

Literary Openings

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Image Credit: geralt/pixabay.com

Yep, I’m still chasing windmills (as supposed to chasing skirts which is what I should be doing while I’m still young-ish and fairly good looking). Ha! Who the fuck am I kidding? I have a book to finish plus I need to crank out the next one, oh and there’s that ‘slightly misanthropic’ thing so…

But this here post is not about a therapy session is about literary openings.

See much like a movie, TV show or a song. In the writing world, you’ve got to have a great opening—that something that hooks the reader.

Here are some of my favorite (recent) literary openings:

“When mother found out she was pregnant with me she took an overdose. Father gave her the pills. She needed a drama from time to time to remind her that she was still alive. The overdose didn’t work.” Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley.

And just like that I (the reader) wants to be taken into a sure-to-be dark, perverted and twisted ride. And it is.

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‘Nobody comes to Minnesota to take their clothes off, at least as far as I know. This ain’t no nightclub. Here in the woebegone upper country, Jack Frost is a liberal, rangy sadist with ice crystals in his soul patch.’ Candy Girl by Diablo Cody.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I love Diablo Cody’s writing; she’s an erudite, sharp, funny and fearless writer. Too bad she hasn’t written another book lately. Then again, I suppose writing Hollywood screenplays pays a hell of a lot better. Sigh.

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‘I was sitting in my office, my lease had expired and McKelvey was starting eviction proceedings. It was a hellish hot day and the air conditioner was broken. A fly crawled across the top of my desk. I reached out with the open palm of my hand and send him out of the game. I wipe my hand on my right pant leg as the phone rang. I picked it up.

 “Ah yes,” I said.

“Do you read Celine?” a female voice asked. Her voice sounded quite sexy. I had been lonely for some time. Decades. Pulp by Charles Bukowski.

Tell me if his description of the demise of an unfortunate fly, the woman asking about the narrator’s reading proclivities, and the last word, doesn’t make you curious about where this narrative is going.

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‘October 16, 1859

“Men, get on your arms,” the Captain said. “We will proceed to the Ferry.” It was eight at night, an autumn Sunday, silent and dark in the Maryland Hills. A horse drawn wagon pulled up to the log house loaded it with pikes, tools, torches and gunpowder.’ Midnight Rising by Tony Horowitz.

You know that shit’s gonna go down real hard after reading that (Albeit, the phrasing near the end there is a bit awkward—an edit oversight perhaps?) regardless the writer’s got you hooked. I’m still in the process of reading this one; it’s about a little known historical figure by the name of John Brown and the raid that sparked the American Civil War.

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‘When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The first time I saw her, it was the back of her head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head.’ Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

The Victorians had a way of telling a person’s personality traits by reading that person’s skull, it was called phrenology. A pseudo-science developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796. It was a popular practice in the 19th century.

Unwillingly, or willingly. This opening gives us (the reader) a hint as to what lies ahead.

I can go on and on about great and interesting literary openings, but these will have to do because I’ve got to summon Sancho Panza. We’ve have some giants to skewer.

Sancho! Bring my pen and paper—err, I mean lance!

In Odd We Trust

I’m intrigued by oddities, the strange, and the unexplained. Went looking for some stories to post on here for ya, found a bunch of ‘em. Here are some my favorites. Enjoy.

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Photo Credit: sixpenceee.com/tumblr

In the year of our Lord 1883, Henry Ziegland—heart breaker that he was—broke up with his girlfriend. Then the distressed heartbroken girlfriend committed suicide. With a thirst for revenge the girlfriend’s brother, found Henry and shot him. Satisfied with his deed, the girlfriend’s brother committed suicide too. However Henry Ziegland lived. Turns out the bullet just graced him and lodged itself into a nearby tree. All was good for Henry (probably had a brood all over the state) then one day he decided to dynamite the tree with the bullet in it. After 20 years, the bullet finally found its intended target, impacting Henry in the head and killing him instantly. Final Destination anyone? (Source)

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Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

A lot has been said about Edgar Allan Poe. The man was a brilliant writer but, he will always be associated with the bizarre and the macabre . The following anecdote cements that notion. In the novel “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” written in 1838 Edgar Allan Poe wrote about four ship wreck survivors adrift in a small raft, whom after several days at sea, decide to eat the cabin boy (Poor bastard).  In the book the cabin boy’s name is Richard Parker.

In the year of our Lord 1884

A ship by the name of Mignonette sank, leaving only four survivors adrift at sea. The survivors decided to eat the cabin boy. His name? Richard Parker, poor bastard indeed. This case was the first of its kind where the remaining crewmen were tried for murder and cannibalism. Ever since the trial of this case, every university law student has to learn about the case as part of their educational curriculum. (Source)

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Image Credit: Square Enix Online Store.

Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action-role playing video game—combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements—developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. (Thanks Wikipedia) During the production of this game, one of the artists forgot to add the Twin Towers to the rendering of the city of New York; this mistake was later explained as a terrorist attack.

This all happened in the year 2000. (Source)

 

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Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Violet Constance Jessop (2 October 1887 – 5 May 1971) was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse. This lady was one lucky dame as she survived the following: The collision between the RMS Olympic and the HMS Hawke. She was on board of the Titanic when it kissed that iceberg. She was also on board of the HMHS Britannic when it hit a mine. This lady was a survivor in the true sense of the word; in doing research (Thanks again Wikipedia) I read that she was the first of nine children—of the nine, only six survived, and that at an early age she contracted tuberculosis  but, despite doctor’s predictions, she survived.

Way to give death the middle finger there Violet, or in her case it would be the ‘two fingers’ salute. (Source)

Her memoir is on Amazon

Reading this type of stuff is addictive right? Click on the links below for more weirdness.

In other weird news: The Ashley Madison maelstrom is being call ‘Black Friday’ by divorce attorneys. Go figure.