#FirstLineFriday Submissions Are Now Closed! Here’s the Answer to Our Quiz, and the Names of Our Winners!

Woohooo! So happy to have #FirstLineFriday back, and this week, I’m also happy to announce we have some winners! Four, to be exact, which is great since I consider this opening line to be pretty tricky. Everyone should be familiar with the title of this one, since it has been around a long time, and was published in 1951, nearly 70 years ago!

“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.” is the opening line of J. D. Salinger’s award-winning novel, Catcher in the Rye. 

The book was included in Time Magazine’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923,  and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th Century! I read Catcher in the Rye in high school, in 1961 or 1962, so nearly sixty years ago. I suppose that’s why I didn’t recognize that very unique (and unbelievably LONG) opening line, either. I’m planning to read it again, because any book that’s still being acclaimed after all these years is worth a second look, even if Salinger ended up as one of the most famous hermits of his generation. 

There is a certain amount of controversy about this book, given today’s vastly different cultural climate, but this isn’t the place to discuss that, thanks. Our contest is about testing our knowledge of book trivia, seeing the vast differences in ways to open a novel, and studying what makes opening lines effective. 

Congratulations to this week’s winners, Olga Nunez, Teri Polen, Flossie Benton Rogers, and Darlene Foster. Way to go, Ladies! Be on the lookout for your gift from Amazon or for Olga a PDF file of your choice. 


Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger’s New Yorker stories–particularly A Perfect Day for BananafishUncle Wiggily in ConnecticutThe Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor–will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children. The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.

Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Buy Catcher in the Rye HERE

Thanks so much for playing, and I’m already looking forward to next week’s #FirstLineFriday quiz. Stay tuned!

19 thoughts on “#FirstLineFriday Submissions Are Now Closed! Here’s the Answer to Our Quiz, and the Names of Our Winners!

    • While I’ve heard that many people don’t think much of Holden Caulfield, all I remember about the book was feeling very sorry for him. (Yes, I was even sappier as a teenager than I am today, and that’s saying something!) 🙂 I figure anything that’s endured this long needs to be read, or in my case, re-read from a vastly different perspective than I had as a high schooler. Then I can decide if I like him or not.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thanks for the prize! I have not read the book, yet. But I have read the first line many times. Perhaps I should read the book. I think my problem with reading it is that Mark Chapman was found calmly waiting at the spot, with the novel in his hand after shooting John Lennon. This has always put me off reading it. I love this series as it reminds us of books we read a long time ago, or should read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’d hate to think how many criminals of all kinds have loved books I enjoyed over the years. It might make me ignore any novel where a murder was committed or a person took their own lives. I’d rather decide for myself whether a book has merit or not, since we all bring our own perspectives and personalities to each book we read. I suspect that Mark Chapman’s take on anything would likely be far different than mine. (That’s just me, of course, and I don’t mean you should run right out and get this one, by any means.) And I’m so glad you are enjoying #FirstLineFriday again. I love it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I own the book. The very edition you have shown here. I take it out and start (hence being very familiar with the first line) but keep putting it back on the shelf. I have to get over it. I promise, I will read it this year. xo

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think that’s a reasonable plan. If you get farther into it and you really don’t like the book on its own merits, then I say dump it. These days, I do NOT finish any book that isn’t working for me, no matter how many people like it. My time is too precious. But if you find yourself liking it for one reason or another, then you just keep on going, also regardless of outside factors. That’s what I’m going to do. If I start reading it and realize my teenage self was nuts to feel sorry for Holden, I’ll likely quit, unless I like the story line even with a badly flawed main character. Who knows what kind of difference a 60-year break and a whole lot more life experiences might make? We’ll have to compare notes! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

    • I know. I have trouble imagining an editor today letting that slide by. Heck, we’re told to keep it short and to the point and avoid excess description, etc. (Not something I’m willing or able to do, I’m afraid.) That sentence is longer than most paragraphs. But I love that it gives you an immediate picture of what’s going on in this kid’s head. Thanks for stopping by, Denise! 🙂 Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I won! I think I had read it in an Spanish translation but then I read it as part of my American Literature degree a few years back and we did talk about it in detail. He has a very peculiar voice, and it’s easy to see why it’s a classic, although it is no longer as shocking as it must have been at the time (disaffected adolescents were not that common in books at the time). Thanks, Marcia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Trish. I just think this is a rather astonishing first line. But I admit, I love it. So many clues as to the person speaking, even if you’ve never heard anything about the book before. And I’m very happy to have #FirstLineFriday back, too. It’s fun! 🙂


    • I read it nearly 60 years ago and didn’t recognize that opening line, myself. And I know a lot of folks, especially those under 40, have probably never read it, but I’m willing to bet most of us have at least heard of it. It was fun seeing who recognized it and who didn’t. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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