In grad school, the Lovely Writing Mentor advised us to open a story with something that would either shock the reader, hook the reader, intrigue the reader or just make them laugh. When you get right to it, sometimes that simple task is hard to manage. However, during the course of my novice, 'no-one-will-ever-read-this-but-my-writer's group' constructions of some really bad fiction, I've been able to manage it. For the most part. Some, I'm very proud of. Others, not so much, but generally they run along the "tonight she danced alone," and "helen thought the man looked far too smug for his own good" variety. Not saying they're great or even my favorite, but I'm just paranoid enough not to pull out my A game, as it were, onto the blogosphere.
Of course, I have my all time favorite openings: "124 was spiteful." Despite my COMPs exam almost eradicating my love for Beloved, I recognize that's a killer opening and a great American novel. But the following are some of my personal favorites that have come about over the past ten years though they are in no way a complete list...I'd be here all night if it were. Some aren't 'literary' whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, but they certainly have gotten my attention, are from amazing novels that I have loved and in many cases, these openings have made the narcissistic writer in me hugely jealous.
In no particular order whatsoever. Feel free to add your own favorites, Dear Anonymous Reader, whoever you may be!
"Shadow had done three years in prison." American Gods, Neil Gaiman
"Jude had a private collection." Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
"On the day Claire became a member of Glass House, someone stole her laundry." Glass Houses, Rachel Caine
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie." The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
"A man begins dying at the the moment of his birth." The Husband, Dean Koontz
"Mommy forgot to warn the new babysitter about the basement." The Summoning, Kelley Armstrong
"My mother used to tell me about the ocean." The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
Go forth and read these if you haven't had the honor quite yet.