First lines are important. Opening lines can grab you immediately and pull you into a story, making you drop what you should be doing--like marking papers or pulling laundry out of the washing machine so you do not forgot to take it out like you sometimes do.. Opening lines call out to you: read.
First lines of a novel or short story are laboured over, or perhaps they come to the writer unasked, surprising her or him.
My sister asked me if I was going to get a Kindle.
Absolutely not, I said. I spend enough time staring at a screen.
The glare and the scrolling and scanning and jumping about promote lack of concentration on words and ideas. Kindle is the opposite of sinking yourself into a book. Of paying close attention to extended ruminations. To me, Kindle and e-reading are anti-yoga. Being in the moment is illusive in our fragmentary schizophrenic e-reading. Will the Kindle promote slowing down and reflecting on words or more of the anxious leaping through bits and pieces of people's thoughts?
The 'hyper' in hyperlink is just that--makes for hyperactive disconnected anxious reading. Being fragmented is not necessarily good for the spirit.
Although there can be benefits to online reading and to a Kindle, nothing can replace a book. The handling of books. The silk of covers and pages. Books have a presence. A book is like a small door that you hold in your hand. A threshold place where you enter the words of an author. I may be wrong, but somehow the idea of a Kindle in your hands would not encourage a similar communion with the author. The text is mediated through digital technology and that is much different than paper technology.
With all your books on a Kindle, how would you savor the moment of reading all the first lines of a pile of new books on your table?
Here are the first lines of the books I received in the mail this morning:
"I'm thinking about you now instead of following Zemzem's example and inching forward on all fours so the gunman doesn't see me, or clutching the prayer beads like my grandmother and praying to God and His prophets for all I'm worth." Beirut Blues a novel by Hanan al-Shaykh
"Umm Hassan is dead." Gate of the Sun. Elias Khoury
"Sitting in this bus I am, as in any vehicle, be it plane, train, truck, or boat, myself an object in a magic container whose inner sides are at this moment in a state of suspension." Master of the Eclipse. by Etal Adnan
"Ten thousand bombs had landed, and I was waiting for George." DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage.