In no particular order, and purposely without origin, I give you a collection of the beginnings of stories I have found compelling and masterful. (Please feel free to add any I should have here in comments.) Enjoy!
Gary Robinson died hungry.
Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.
His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god.
Sirhan S. Sirhan is nuts, nuts, nuts.
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Bad things happen to the husbands of Widow Elkin.
Depression is the flaw in love.
This isn’t at all what I expected. In 1985, by some sort of journalistic accident, I was sent to Madagascar with Mark Carwardine to look for an almost extinct form of lemur called the aye-aye. None of the three of us had met before. I had never met Mark, Mark had never met me, and no one, apparently, had seen an aye-aye in years.
It is with no small amount of trepidation that I take my place behind this desk, and face this learned audience.
All children, except one, grow up.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was 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.
It was a dark and stormy night.
All this happened, more or less.
The poles of the earth have wandered. The equator has apparently moved. The continents, perched on their plates, are thought to have been carried so very far and to be going in so many directions that it seems an act of almost pure hubris to assert that some landmark of our world is fixed at 73 degrees 57 minutes and 53 seconds west longitude and 40 degrees 51 minutes and 14 seconds north latitude- a temporary description, at any rate, as if for a boat on the sea.
It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.
It was the day my grandmother exploded.
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.
The University of Toledo gave President Frank Horton a pay increase yesterday. It was his first raise in nearly a month.
‘They hit a little girl,’ and in his muscular black arms the first specialist carried out a seven-year-old, long black hair and little earrings, staring eyes — eyes, her eyes are what froze themselves onto M’s memory, it seemed there was no white to those eyes, nothing but black ellipses like black goldfish. The child’s nose was bleeding — there was a hole in the back of her skull.
Snow, followed by small boys on sleds.
Kazbek Misikov stared at the bomb hanging above his family. It was a simple device, a plastic bucket packed with explosive paste, nails, and small metal balls. It weighed perhaps eight pounds. The existence of this bomb had become a central focus of his life. If it exploded, Kazbek knew, it would blast shrapnel into the heads of his wife and two sons, and into him as well, killing them all.
Let’s talk about tattoos.
Ella had to find out what had attacked her, and she wasn’t the only one.
The imperfect man pitched the perfect game.
Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yesterday.
If on the morrow we should lose to the Germans at our national game, fret not, lads, for twice in this century we have beaten them at theirs.
If you could stop rubbing your itchy, watery eyes for one second, put down the tissue and look around, you’d see an increasing number of sneezing, sniffling sad sacks just like you.
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
At 12:30, my husband and I were having a pleasant lunch in a restaurant. At 1:30, we were back home, sitting at the kitchen counter planning a trip to Vienna and Budapest with cherished friends. At 2:30, I was walking out of the hospital emergency room in shock, a widow, my life changed forever, beyond comprehension.
Floridians are going to have to start pulling up their pants and stop having sex with animals soon.
President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn’t inhale, didn’t get drafted and didn’t get a degree.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Frank Sinatra, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something.
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.