A Poll plus Aunty Throws in the Towel

This heah rattler was what greeted the fellas at the camp this weekend when they got in fer dinner...an' it doan have one thang to do wif this post, but Pure Florida had a scare wif' a big rattler an' his dawg, Bear, too--so I'se wonderin' if it ain't time to make us some snakeskin boots???

Now...onto the post

I quit.

I'se over it.

Blogger done et mah side bar an' I cain't git it up again.

Tryin' to keep up wif' y'all techno whizzes, I put in the new blogger editor an' it were so much frustration I ain't got a hair left on mah haid. Mah Charleston post was truncated with a "read more" (which few did) link at the bottom of the first pic--plus the sidebar was missin'. When I figgered out how to go back to old blogger, the side bar was still missin'.

I'se over it. Besides, is y'all seen mah roses? They's the saddest stragglin', puny excuse fer a rose ya ever did see. Reckon' the staff gardener (thas' me) ain't hit a lick at them roses in a coon's age. Too much bloggin'. That doan even say nuthin' about the real writin' that ain't been writ.

On top of all that I was at Big Shamu's an' followed a link or two an' ended up on some woman's site whar she hawks her book about chocolate desserts from Paris

...an' I bought the dang thang! I cain't unnerstan why I did that. 28 bucks would buy a heap o' heritage seeds. Somethin' came over me--see? I has got to get off this bloggorama. Detrimental to decent livin'.

Wanna git past this whinin' an git to mah poll?

Ain't as practiced at it as the Troll of Polls, but here goes.

As ya might recall Aunty works out her neuroses by skulkin' around in bookstores reading first lines in novels. Ya' ought try it. When ya see how half the "bestsellers" on the "Just arrived" table open, I betcha' jes' slam 'em shut again. I'se been known to mumble out loud, " iffin' this is yore best opener, how bad is the rest of this 'bestseller' gonna be?"

Then go over to the table whar' bestsellers go to die--yep, the 3 fer $5 bucks pile of rejected books...prolly cause the first lines was so lame-o. Now read THOSE first lines. See the difference?

Me either.

Anyhoo, here's mah poll on first lines.

Below are some opening sentences from several genres. Some is new best sellers, some is ole classics. Please choose (from 1-6 ) the opening line that makes you wanna read on, an say why that sentence grabbed ya'. In a day or so I'll put up the novels that go wif' the lines an' we'll all see what book you'll be readin'.

1. "Rausch," said the voice in Hollis Heny's cell, "Node," it said.

2. Midnight has become my favorite hour.

3. "Home to stay, Glory!" her father said, and her heart sank.

4. If you've never killed someone , you really can't imagine what it's like.

5. It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River

6. A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

Thank all y'all fer yore responses.

Oh, an one more thang, has ya read a book recently that was highly touted, so ya' bought it an' was sorely disappointed? Whas' the worst new fiction youse read recently?


K9 said...

wow aunty. are you going to keep the back porch open? i am going over to read the charleston post. why not take a break instead? i dont remember your sidebar being all that ;-)

i dont want to read any of the books with the first lines below. none of them strike me maybe the last one has a wee tiny bit of promise.

Big Shamu said...

Am I in trouble?

Aunty Belle said...


Ok, found the trouble wif' the sidebar--it were the ONE post I did in the Blogger New Editor--of course, the Charleston one--so to git sidebar back I had to delete that whole post!! Yep, all the pictures of Charleston, the reverie of our day...so iffin' ya din't rad it, sorry, it is gone ferever. Thanks blogger.

See y'all? I could spent that valuable time starin' at that dreaded blank page, waitin' fer some inspired writin' to show up, but no, I wasted a whole hour of writer's block on blogger help forums.


Mah sidebar ain't up to snuff?

(yeah, baby dawg, the Back Porch is about to become a paltform for flame throwin')


heck yeah, youse in deep squirrel poo. First, I'se gonna pick the tres dificile chocolate entry an' send it to Karmic Kitchen fer ya to make and photograph fer us'uns!!

An, second, ya din't answer mah poll question (wanna see me pout?????)

pam said...

I love this post! I do the same thing! If the first line in a book doesn't catch me, I usually don't buy! On the poll, I'd take the last line about the story having no beginning or end.

On the reading front: I just started Dan Brown's new one. Will let you know if it is over-hyped. I never made it through The Time Traveler's Wife, but I know people who loved it. And really, at this point in my life, I just read what I want and don't bother trying to keep up with the best sellers!

Hope your week goes well and the bogger system blues don't getcha!

Big Shamu said...

Actually yes, yes I do want to see you pout. I hear it's a very cute pout.

I'll go with 2. I toyed with 4 but since not many real killers write books (unless we're talking a soldier fighting in war or a policeman in the line of duty)pretending that one knows enough about how it feels to kill a human to point out the uniqueness of killing as the first line of a book seems silly.

By all means, send on what you choose and I'll give it a whirl. I love a chocolate challenge.

Buzz Kill said...

I haven't been reading many books lately and when I do, they're usually techno-thrillers. So of the 6 selections, I'll say 2 and 4 with Shamu. Number 4 could be the opening line for OJ's "If I did it". Bwwhahahaha
But it's not. I looked it up and it's Power Play by Joseph Finder. A big chunk of the book is previewed on-line here:


Sorry, I don't know how to link in the comments box.

If I have to pick one, I'd say number 2 because it sounds like a vampire story..

Doom said...

6.) The way it is written is inviting. There is going to be a story, there always is, but this makes it clear. It seems we will have a guide in the tale. It may include the past, a future (perhaps already unfolded as told from a point in the past), a suspected future, or bits of all. It seems open to so much possibility, like a carver starting with a block of wood, the author says... see here...

But, then again, I am a notorious philistine (of the arts, if that needs saying... see?).

TROLL Y2K said...

None of the above, really. Probably number 2 if I had to pick.

The worst I've read recently was by that "conservative" writer YOU recommended. The one who put 3 boring sex scenes and 93 f-bombs in the first 10 pages.

Then when you passed on my complaint to him he said something like "that's realism".

Remember that? Can't recall the dude's name. I did like his non-fiction editorial though.

Doom said...

Oh, though if I am in a mood for a raunchy detective, spy, or crime book, #1. I don't read those at all anymore. My mother used to give me some (force a box of them on me because she had no more room and "No." isn't well placed in my vocabulary, especially when the box also contained home made salsa, pickles, and jellies and jams). Some of them were so-kay, for a man in a box anyway.

Floridacracker said...

I'm an opening line scanner too.

#1 intrigues me.

No truly disappointing fiction lately... at least none that was highly touted.

Don't go!

SophieMae said...

Bless yer li'l ol' pea-pickin' heart! Glad your sidebar returned, but bummed at the cost. I'd sure hate to see you leave blog-world.

Re the poll... I'm torn between 3 and 5. As far as recent reads, dern, it's been too long since I've sat down with a good fictional tome. OK, with any fictional tome. Reckon you're not the only one who has been burning the blogswax candle at both ends and needs to put in a bit more time in the real world.

fishy said...

Well I am glad I saw your delightful Charleston post before it got blogger-zapped. It were a fine entertainment.

Of the last 5 novels I read, I did't like any of 'em. Just sorta doggedly slogged thru to the last irritation or boring page. I am from that "finish what you start" generation so there I was being dutiful to a bad author or Pavlov. One or t'other.

Didn't rightly get called to read any book from those first lines, but if I did it would be 'bout a girl named "Glory" cause that sounds Southern to me.

Hope you get over the blank page problem. Maybe the blogger woes fired up them gray cells alongside that temper.

Big Shamu said...

Dang, that's a big snake.

Boxer said...

I usually pick a book up, open it up in the middle and start reading. If it holds my attention THEN I read the first line. The one exception was one of my all time favorite books, THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt. It starts with "they found Bunny's body in the spring when the snow melted." Given then, I pick number 2. Not sure why.

Ignore Blogger! I don't dare touch any of those buttons for the same reason.

moi said...

First, I hope y'all didn't kill the snake. I mean, I loves me a snakeskin bag/shoe/belt/pair of gloves more than anything, but that is best left up to the experts who farm them for that purpose.

Best books read this year: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Seriously, if you haven't read this book, go out now and buy it and get ready for one of the most beautifully written epics of the American psyche since Lonesome Dove. And if you haven't read Lonesome Dove, go get that, too.

Also: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier was a terrific surprise.

Worst book I read this year was Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley. You'd think a book that examines Hollywood through the structure of the Decameron would be even moderately interesting. But, no. It sits alongside The Corrections as one of the most stinky novels evah.

Aunty Belle said...


Much ter say, but mega busy day--back tonight to respond to all
y'alls goof thoughts.

Carry on!

Boxer said...

THE CORRECTIIONS. Not as advertised, Moi, can't agree with you more.

moi said...

Oops, realized I didn't answer the Poll. Here ya go:

1. "Rausch," said the voice in Hollis Heny's cell, "Node," it said. Wouldn't pick this up because it sounds like it's going to be something Cyberpunky or technie. Not por Moi.

2. Midnight has become my favorite hour. Oh, yeah, and what else? Bourbon your favorite poison? Next.

3. "Home to stay, Glory!" her father said, and her heart sank.The one that would most likely make me read on. If only to see if this is going to be a good story with a headstrong female lead or yet another limp-noodled historical romance.

4. If you've never killed someone , you really can't imagine what it's like. Duh. Next.

5. It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River. And my mother who burned it down? If that's where the author is going with this, okay, I'll give it fifty pages.

6. A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. Double Duh. And, also: Ugh. If you can't write something with punch, something that immediately evokes a visual in my mind, for an opening sentence? Fuggedaboutit.

Aunty Belle said...

Wow--much to digest in the combox!


so, ya read opening lines too? I swear one of the funniest I ever read --well it was an opening page--was by Martin Amis--I jes' leaned against a table an' shook wif' rueful laughter. I pegged the whole post modern angst thang wif' jes' the perfect note of nihilistic neurosis and ironic humor. An' heck yes, doan bother readin' anythang ya doan like--life is too too short, an they's a heap pf good books that never make it on Oprah's list.


the dorrie book is here an' the chocolate challenge will be emailed to ya tomorrow!

As fer yore selection of # 2...you woan be disappointed, but ya might be surprised. (see below)


my gracious but you is resourceful--yep, the Finder book, POWER PLAY. But here's my rub--I think that is a junior high level opening line--good grief! That man sells a truckload o' books, but he ain't a good writer, though the plots are passable, an' some techno info is interesting.

Buzz, what techno thrilers does ya like? Uncle has read near bout ever Clive Cussler...but I wearied of 'em. Tom Clancy is ghost written now...Vince Flynn is less techno...who does ya read?


Oh brother--wait until you see what ya git wif' door number 6--heh...youse on the money for Doom's sensibility. How interesting (see below).


uh, well, number 2 for Troll? Hmmm...I dunno. (see below) But mercy maud--who did I suggest fer ya to read? I doan read much wif' sex in it--the sex scenes is usually misplaced an' borin'. However, I might have suggested a Vince Flyn--and yep, I gave him up since he uses vulgar words wif' too heavy a pen. All the same, Flynn has his politics right. I think I might ask Flynn iffin' he as read Joseph Finder (see above to Buzz) because Finder writes about tough guy stuff, but he doan sprinkle f-bombs like salt an 'pepper. Real men doan need gutter vocabs.


heh...see below--it will be very odd stuff. A genre unto itself. ( I knowed ya was a scanner too--funny how that is.)

Aunty Belle said...

Sophie Mae!

hey you! Well, listen, them's some days when bloggin' revs mah motor so I can write other more reality based deadlined material--but I has had mah time gulped by other concerns recently so the garden goes beggin' the home chores go beggin' --all that means is bloggin' gives me the guilts when I peck away heah rather than hoe the rows...I will say, mah taste has run more to non-fiction since what is happening in reality beats any fiction ever written.


Why, ain't ya started a book group recenlty--a southern mystery gatherin-- or somethin'? Surely y'all has some good ideas fer us. So youse chose #3? Might work fer ya--see below


ah, now thar's a technique I ain't tried--an now I will! An the Secret History is new to me--cain't wait to git aholt of it. Thanky. (yeah, me an blogger been goin' mano a mano....grrr!)


...heh. Oh I'se wif' ya on the skins--I has kept an ole belly lizard purse fer years cause I cain't afford a new one--mebber Uncle can git us some skins an we can go to the bootmaker!

Edgar Sawtelle? I fergot about that one--but of course, Moi Cherie, the DAWGs is fabulous, an the prose is sublime. Very unusual story, finely crafted. Has tht author written a new book yet?

As fer Ms. Smiley, I read her 1000 Acres as an American King Lear...but she lost me wif' Moo. Gak!

I do like the Loosiana evocations of Burke, but I doan know Brief History of the Dead--sounds like I need to take a look-see.

Aunty Belle said...


1) SPOOK COUNTRY by William Gibson is a warped ride through contemporary anthropology--a master of the post-post- modern distopia, Gibson outlines 21st cent disorder, a world where any reliable cultural structure is missing--a techno barbarism. Black comedy.

Gibson's earlier novel, PATTERN RECOGNITION, is weirdly prophetic at ground level. It is, oddly, a book for Moi and her band of fashionistas as a sub theme is fashion as a harbinger of social upheaval. Gibson occupies a genre category almost to himself.

2) THE LAST QUEEN, by CW Gortner,
a well researched story of Juana la Loca, the reluctant queen of Spain--daughter of Isabella, sister of Catherine of Aragon--y'all, this is a fascinating book, an examination of history in that most accessible form, historical fiction. Aunty loves Spain, an' think this book evokes both the country's historical tragedy an' the cruel manipulation of women born to power. Here is a great trailer:


3)HOME by Marilynne Robinson

Pulitzer prize winning author Robinson pens another Iowa novel of ordinary people who struggle to find the extraordinary grace to grow wise while rubbing up against their collective past. This novel is character (not plot) driven.

4) POWER PLAY by Joseph Finder

A fast paced thriller plot, corporate intrigue, lots of info-toys, an identifiable good guy team/ bad guy team. Written as a 16 year old with nice manners would write--it is mah idea of an example of why bein' a bestseller ain't synonymous wif' literary achievement. But, heh, Finder laughs all the way to the bank.

5) SOUTH OF BROAD, by PRINCE OF TIDES author Pat Conroy throws it all in one massive boo-hoo about love lost, mental illness, flawed parents, identity angst, race relations, hurricanes as fate shaping events, snobby Charlestonians, orphans, Aids, family secrets, unsolved murders, an' utterly matchless evocations of South Carolina. But, Oh spar me! puhleeeeeeze! This thang is 250 pages too long, an' ain't got nuthin' of lastin'value to say to the reader. Conroy ain't able to git past his own boyhood/ reported abuse by his daddy/ feelin' like an army-brat outcast. Tiresome. However, some of the prose is really stunning. No, really.

6) THE END OF THE AFFAIR by Graham Greene. A classic that adults should read. Adultery an' its consequences, love that transcends personal desire, human heroics, an' a knowing acceptance of human frailty as a glue that bonds us homo sapiens.

“One of the most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody’s language.”
—William Faulkner

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As fer bloggin' an Blogger: I'll be bloggin' a bit less in order to attend to real life duties--but I'se over mah tirade. Old editor is workin' as it should...fer now. Blogger be advised: Wordpress lurks off stage.

moi said...

Heh, I KNEW that first line was William Gibson! I've never been much of a Cyberpunk fan, but maybe I should at least pick up Pattern Recognition.

S.B. gobbles up Vince Flynn novels, but I'm not much for the genre these days.

Edgar Sawtelle is the first, and so far, only, book by its author. Why it didn't win the Pulitzer Prize, I'll never know.

James Lee Burke crafts some of the most atmospheric fiction today and the way he handles violence is unmatched. The scenes can be brutal, but they are never gratuitous, never exploitative. How he manages instead to convey world weary despair overlain with righteous indignation is pretty breathtaking.

I'm so sorry, Aunty, but I hated End of the Affair. I liked the idea of it, but I always feel like I'm wading through Jell-O, reading Greene (although Our Man in Havana is tolerable.)

But I agree with you about Pat Conroy. I don't care how prettily written, Confessional Lit is a SNOOOOOOOOZE. Not to mention just a shade embarrassing.

TROLL Y2K said...

The "conservative" you recommended is named Andrew Klavan.


Aunty Belle said...


heh...yep Gibson is too techie fer me too-but Pattern Recognition has its moments.

Fer odd off beat thriller wif' no cyber punkism, I read Tim Power's DECLARE. Definitely odd when MI-5 starts hunting jinns in the Arabian desert.

Ya' doan like Greene? Does ya like Falkner? Walker Percy?


AH...ok, I doan recognize any of his titles--doan think I read his books, jes' his essay that is definitely conservative. But I'se on yore team--ain't no need to put graphic sex and boorish language in a story. Or at least, not in any story I wanna read.

Ardlair said...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."

still the winner.


fishy said...

Well Aunty,
now that I have read the book descriptions, I probably DID pick the most likely book I would read from the first line.

As for Pat Conroy's fantasies about feeding the bad guys to the pet lion and dog food to the Dad and riding over the bridge screaming "Lowenstein!" .... well one Pat Conroy is enough for a lifetime.

I am re-readin the Winds of War and War and Remembrance.

Some of the Southern Mysteries want to divert and read The Help,centered on life in Mississippi in the late 50's, before integration. What life was like when the folks all managed to look after each other without malice.

Aunty Belle said...

well well, looky heah--I agrees wif' ya, Dickens' TOTC's opening line IS matchless. Cannot imagine a better --though the openin' of Anna Karenina comes close.


I heered The Help was a grand read.
But of mah list, The Last Queen is the prize. Youse gonna love it.

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