As any of my journalism or creative writing students would assure you, I’m quite obsessed with strong leads. I’ve got a collection of favorite openings from novels, newspaper pieces, and non-fiction, and use them frequently when I teach. But it has been a long time since I encountered an opening I love as much as the first paragraph of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “The Angel’s Game.”
Granted, I’m partial to this because I’m a writer. If he were talking about the moment one decides to become an accountant or math teacher it might not have hit home in the same way, but I think that regardless of profession it’s tough to argue how incredibly strong this first paragraph is:
“A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.”
Ah, genius. I can’t wait to finish the book, loved “The Shadow of the Wind” and am looking forward to diving into this one.