Wynan Richardson's The House on Nauset Marsh (Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press, 1997) is one of my favorite books on Cape Cod. It's creative non-fiction, but it could be a novel. The writing is extremely fine and the narrator is a really interesting character, and others are as well.
But, so what. Whether it's fiction, creative non-fiction, or a textbook on how to remove a bullet from you skull, you need a good first sentence.
I can't resist quoting the whole 1st paragraph:
You can go to Eastham, on outer Cape Cod, and live in the little old Farm House at the drop of a hat. The pump, the kerosene lamps, and the open fire are always ready without fear of frost or storm. You can drive up the lane, stop the car by the kitchen door, and unload your gear. You can look out the south windows over the nearby grassy hills, over the bright blue water of Nauset Marsh to the darker blue glimpses of the sea beyond the dunes, and draw a deep breathThere you have it, a magical place where you an go back to over and over and it never changes.
Eastham, founded in the early 17th century, was one of the first towns on Cape Cod. It's population grew so fast there was some interest in moving the capitol of the state from Plymouth to Eastham.
But what subtext: "You can go" empowers you; "little old Farm House" means a place where you loved as a kid. "Drive up," "Unload your gear," "Look out," "over the bright blue water," "without fear", "draw a deep breath"; it's so enabling and just makes you yearn to escape the confinements and go into you mind into such a place. And the details, "the pump, the kerosene lamps, and the open fire" just want you go come along. You can go into the book and get lost in it, which I recommend you do.
This Cape Cod no longer exists, of course. Eisenhower's interstates delivered the first bow. It was going away just as Richardson wrote the first edition of this fine book.
I think I'll drop my hat and go read it.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite book or first sentence? Tell me. Post a comment. I'd like to know. And follow me on Twitter.com
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