percyMy choices as the best opening lines in Southern literature:

“Now in these dead latter days of the U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?” — “Love in the Ruins” by Walker Percy

“There was a man and a dog too this time. Two beasts, counting Old Ben, the bear, and two men, counting Boon Hogganbeck, in whom some of the same blood ran which ran in Sam Fathers, even though Boon’s was a plebeian strain of it and only Sam and Old Ben and the mongrel Lion were taintless and incorruptible.” — “The Bear” by William Faulkner

“All weekend the two girls were calling each other Temple One and Temple Two, shaking with laughter and getting so red and hot that they were positively ugly, particularly Joanne who had spots on her face anyway.” — “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” by Flannery O’Connor

“Nunnely Ballew rolled his quid of tobacco from one thin cheek to the other, following each word with a knotty brown finger, the printing on the can of dog food in his hand.” — “Hunter’s Horn” by Harriette Simpson Arnow

“Christianna Wheeler, big as a washtub and confined to bed all winter with her unusual pregnancy, heard the midnight train whistling up from Memphis.” — “Feather Crowns” by Bobbie Ann Mason

“Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come by to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. Buford had come along about noon and when he left at sundown, the boy, Tarwater, had never returned from the still.” — “The Violent Bear It Away” by Flannery O’Connor

Cliff Green

Cliff Green

Cliff Green is a former writer for The Atlanta Journal. He worked there when it was a real newspaper. His accomplishments since include the fact that he has never watched a minute of reality TV, and he has never been inside a Starbuck's. He owns no device onto which he can download music, nor does he know how to record a television show. He is not sure what an iPhone is. He is proud of all the above.