Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Starts to Great Books

Because I enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, I thought it may be worthwhile to give some of Harris' other books a try. Ms Harris does have another paranormal series out, The Harper Connelly Mysteries, but I didn't start with those. Actually, I started with Harris' very first published novel, Sweet and Deadly.

Why am I mentioning Sweet and Deadly, a non-paranormal novel that was published before I was even born (pub date, 1981) on a current paranormal blog?

Well, because Charlaine Harris is a gifted writer, and her stories are always interesting. Because she's made a huge impact in the realm of paranormal romance, via her Sookie Stackhouse series and the television show it inspired. And because Sweet and Deadly has one of the most interesting first lines I've ever read in a novel.

"She passed a dead dog on her way to the tenant shack."

It may not sound that interesting at first, but instead of taking the easy route of introducing the main character or offering a meaningless platitude, Harris starts this rather simple novel with a disturbing, seemingly meaningless image that, although not impacting the storyline directly, or even indirectly in any significant way, is telling of the story as a whole and the otherwise random events that can mean so much more. This dead dog, though unimportant to the protagonists, bookends the story completely. It orients the details of the story and the events of one woman's life within the larger plain of the human existence. The last line of the story is also dedicated to the dog, but again in a subtle way that marks the short passage of time in the novel, and orients the characters within the greater scheme of things:

"A few miles outside of Lowfield, up the higway that led to Memphis, a little boy cried over his supper because his dun-colored dog had been missing for four days."

If she could do this with her first novel, how many more tricks has Charlaine Harris placed up her sleeve in the last 28 years?



Helena Sparrow said...

Great to hear! I have the first book in two of her other series but I have yet to start on them. Cant wait now...hehe

Lily Ghates said...

(Comment originally posted January 11, 2010 . Reposted due to account error)

I have the first 2 audiobooks of one of her other series. The Grave series, maybe? I'm not sure, all I remember is that iTunes had them listed for $6.99 each, and with my love of both Harris and audiobooks, I couldn't resist :)

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