Thanks for a really fun article, Diane. While it's true that a strong opening line is important for a novel, it's also possible to over-do things. Anthony Burgess, whose opening to A Clockwork Orange you cite, is also responsible for the overly precious opening to Earthly Powers: "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me." The problem with this particular display of self-conscious attention-seeking is that it's just a bit too contrived. It draws attention to itself, rather than drawing the reader into what turns out to be a rambunctious parody of Somerset Maugham and multiple other genres. It actually inspired me to spend a day (many, many years ago) inventing parody first lines, such as "At the precise moment Naira's spaceship disintegrated around her, she was composing a haiku in which she intended to enumerate all the many egregious personality flaws of her telepathic pet hamster."

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