Five openings I adore, chosen randomly:
“They put the behemoths in the hold along with the rhinos, the hippos and the elephants. It was a sensible decision to use them as ballast; but you can imagine the stench. And there was no-one to muck out. The men were overburdened with the feeding rota, and their woman, who beneath those leaping fire-tongues of scent no doubt reeked as badly as we did, were far too delicate. So if any mucking-out was to happen, we had to do it ourselves. Every few months they would winch back the thick hatch on the aft deck and let the cleaner-birds in. Well, first they had to let the smell out (and there weren’t too many volunteers for winch-work); then six or eight of the less fastidious birds would flutter cautiously around the hatch for a minute or so before diving in.”
From “The Stowaway” in A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
“A few days before Christmas, in 1959, my father shot a man named Lyle King, and would have killed him, if not for a quirk of anatomy which had located Mr. King’s heart an inch to the left of where by rule it should have been. ‘Joe,’ my father told me some time later, ‘I meant to kill that sonofabitch, and I would have — no joke — if only his heart had been in the right place.'”
From “The End of Sorry” in The Least You Need to Know by Lee Martin
“It is disconcerting to talk to someone on the phone and know that he is naked. Every now and then I might call a friend who says, ‘You caught me on my way to the shower,’ but that’s different. The man at the nudist colony sounded as though he had been naked for years. Even his voice was tanned.”
From “Naked” in the collection Naked by David Sedaris
“Right now it’s Sunday 18 March, and I’m sitting in the extremely full coffee shop of the Fort Lauderdale Airport, killing the four hours between when I had to be off the cruise ship and when my flight to Chicago leaves by trying to summon up a kind of hypnotic sensuous collage of all the stuff I’ve seen and heard and done as a result of the journalistic assignment just ended.
“I have seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels. I have smelled what suntan lotion smells like spread over 21000 pounds of hot flesh. I have been addressed as ‘Mon’ in three different nations. I have watched 500 upscale Americans dance the Electric Slide. I have seen sunsets that looked computer-enhanced and a tropical moon that looked more like a sort of obscenely large and dangling lemon than like the good old stony U.S. moon I’m used to.
“I have (very briefly) joined a Conga Line.”
From “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
“My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:
1. Alison Ashworth
2. Penny Hardwick
3. Jackie Allen
4. Charlie Nicholson
5. Sarah Kendrew.
“These were the ones that really hurt. Can you see your name in that lot, Laura? I reckon you’d sneak into the top ten, but there’s no place for you in the top five; those places are reserved for the kind of humiliations and heartbreaks that you’re just not capable of delivering. That probably sounds crueler than it is meant to, but the fact is that we’re too old to make each other miserable, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, so don’t take your failure to make the list personally. Those days are gone, and good fucking riddance to them; unhappiness really meant something back then. Now it’s just a drag, like a cold or having no money. If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have gotten to me earlier.”
From High Fidelity by Nick Hornby