I love great first lines in books. The gold standard is Herman Melville's beginning of Moby Dick:
Call me Ishmael.
Hard to beat that though Leo Rosten came close in his novel, Silky, about a Jewish-American private investigator:
Call me schlemiel.
Some other great first lines:
For a long time I used to go to bed early.
- Marcel Proust, Swann's Way
They don't often invite me to Balmoral nowadays, which is a blessing; those damned tartan carpets always put me off my food, to say nothing of the endless pictures of German royalty and that unspeakable statue of the Prince Consort standing knock-kneed in a kilt.
- George McDonald Fraser, Flashman in The Great Game
I have lost count of the days that have passed since I fled the horrors of Vasco Miranda's mad fortress in the Andalusian mountain-village of Benengeli; ran from death under cover of darkness and left a message nailed to the door.
- Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh
I am American, Chicago born - Chicago, that somber city - and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.
- Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake - not a very big one.
- Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.
- Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
Any other favorites?