Saturday, June 18, 2011

First Line Trivia

By Kerry Schafer

My brain is a boring and empty place, compared to those of my fascinating sister whores. My trivia storage section is trivial. I could write about my childhood encounters with Bible Baseball, or my fascination with the show Hollywood Squares, but really I think we'd all rather not. Instead of regaling you with any little bits of flotsam and jetsam swept from the cobwebby corners of my neglected brain, I thought we'd play a little trivia game.

I'm going to give you nine first lines from novels gathered fairly randomly from the shelves of my library. It's an eclectic selection, but all are well known, at least in certain corners of the world. You get to guess what book the lines are from.

What does the winner get, you ask? Well, you would ask that question. And I answer you thusly: what you get is the knowledge of your own trivial excellence. Or excellence at trivia. Whichever your prefer.

Here we go:

1. "At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzz that hummed along my skin."

2. "Within the firm walls of flesh that held him prisoner the foal kicked out angrily."

3. "The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-wracked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards."

4. "It was a dark and stormy night."

5. "To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth."

6. "When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen."

7. "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."

8. "My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call."

9. "There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills."

And there you have it folks. Give us your answers, and we will applaud your knowledge.


  1. I'm guessing #2 is Black Beauty. #6 is The Secret Garden and #7 is To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm clueless about the rest. Well, except for the 'dark and stormy night' being from a Bulwar-Litton novel, but I don't know which one.

  2. B.E. - some right, some wrong. Thanks for playing. Will reveal all of the answers - later. : )

  3. Must. Resist. The Google.

    I got:

    1) The Secret Life of Bees, but this one is a guess based on the line itself. I haven't read it.

    2) No idea.

    3) A Wizard of Earthsea, I think. One of the trilogy, and I'm pretty sure it's the first. Must re-read.

    4) Bulwer-Lytton, of course, but I can't remember the name of the book. Some guy's name.

    5) Grapes of Wrath

    6) The Secret Garden

    7) To Kill A Mockingbird

    8) Prince of Tides

    9) Not a clue.

  4. Oh, I LOVE when you do Saturday quizzes. I'm now officially scared of Bill though. ~backs away slowly~

  5. Um yes. Bill is kind of scary. But he didn't get them ALL right. : )

  6. I much less scary in real life. Unless you're holding bacon.

  7. Woo-hoo! Word Whores trivia challenge!

    I'm pretty sure that Ursula Le Guin and Steinbeck are in there. But I'm drawing blanks on most of the others - which is probably why I suck at readers' advisory at work, LOL!

  8. OK, here goes.

    1. The Secret Life of Bees

    2. I guessed Black Beauty too, but just on subject matter -- I never actually read the whole book. I had an illustrated abridged edition as a kid and that was depressing enough.

    3. A Wizard of Earthsea.

    4. I don't think this IS Bulwer-Lytton -- I think there was a much better-known recent book that used this well-known first line, and I think I'm going to kick myself when you say what it is. (I almost want to say it's the first Harry Potter book, or something that obvious, or else it's something really super-artsy and literary like something by Italo Calvino that I would never actually read, but would pretend I had to look smarter. You can tell I have no clue).

    5. I knew this was familiar but couldn't place it till Bill Cameron guessed it, correctly I'm sure, because I DID kick myself then.

    6. The Secret Garden

    7. To Kill a Mockingbird

    8. Didn't recognize it.

    9. Can't believe no-one got this -- one of my favourite novels! That is, if it's Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.

  9. Trudy - re: number 4 - you are definitely going to kick yourself when I tell you the answer. I mean - really. : )

  10. Okay - here are the correct answers:

    1. The Secret Life of Bees - one of the books I wish I'd written
    2. Thunderhead, by Mary O'Hara, author of My Friend Flicka and really a great book - not just for kids.
    3. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin
    4. Can't believe nobody got this one. Ready? A Wrinkle in Time. Yep, she began with the dark & stormy night and got away with it. Gotta love that.
    5. The Grapes of Wrath
    6. The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
    7. To Kill a Mockingbird
    8. The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy
    9. And last, Cry, the Beloved Country. Kudos to Trudy for getting this one!

    Thanks for playing everybody. I had fun.

  11. "Turning left hand then turning left again is how a soul can find his way."

    Thanks, Kerry. Now I'm going to have Secret Garden songs going through my head all day.

    Could be worse, though. They could have made a musical out of The Secret Life of Bees.

  12. LOL. The Life of Bees Musical would have to include Flight of the Bumblebee at some point -

    I don't know any Secret Garden songs - bet I"m not missing anything.