What if the world’s leading novelists, who wrote memorable first lines of their novels, were to rewrite those lines to reflect the age of the Internet? Spurred by a challenge, and as a tribute to an excellent compilation in McSweeney’smagazine, I offer the following:
• Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia remembered that distant afternoon when his grandfather poked him on Facebook.
• It was a dark and stormy night and the Wi-Fi was erratic.
• It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of Match.com.
• It was a bright cold day in April and the clock played the Nokia tune.
• I was born in the city of Bombay…once upon a time. No, that won’t do, ... On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came, and a voice said, “You’ve got mail.”
• “You too will marry a boy I choose from Shaadi.com,” said Mrs Rupa Mehra firmly to her younger daughter.
Which one’s his? Vikram Seth. Ronjoy Gogoi/Hindustan Times
• Let us go then, you and I, as the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherised upon the table and Farmville is down and quite unstable.
• To squeeze the universe into 140 characters...
• 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 the longest novel, it was the shortest tweet; It was :-), it was :-(
• I am an invisible man, my privacy settings the highest— even I can’t see my profile.
• You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter, you can download it on ScribD.
• Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was locked out of Facebook.
• The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new, as I waited for my dial-up modem to connect.
• If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth just see my goddam MySpace page.
• A screaming comes across the sky and I press mute.
• Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, my Orkut profile must show.
• The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel on YouTube.
• All this happened, more or less, on an adult website.
• They shoot the white girl first. Then they Photoshop her to make her look black.
• He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish—but man, could he write a terrific blog!
• It was a pleasure to burn—then he started writing e-Books. Damn.
• In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. But then I took a poll among my Facebook friends and ignored the old man.
• “To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die, and there are ways to kill your profile on Facebook. Ask me later.”
• Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me—but my Facebook profile has the highest privacy settings, and I can bang my drum loud, and he can’t hear me.
• In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains and if not for eBay we wouldn’t have got such a great deal for so little.
• The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there because they had no Internet at that time.
Which of these works do you recognize? Write to us with the authors’ names and works at firstname.lastname@example.org