More "opening lines" than "opening line" here, but...
A Scanner Darkly wrote:Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair. The doctor told him there were no bugs in his hair. After he had taken a shower for eight hours, standing under hot water hour after hour suffering the pain of the bugs, he got out and dried himself, and he still had bugs in his hair; in fact, he had bugs all over him. A month later he had bugs in his lungs.
I picked that up in a bookstore once, read that paragraph, and bought the book immediately knowing nothing else about it. I was not disappointed.
High Fidelity wrote:My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:
1. Alison Ashworth
2. Penny Hardwick
3. Jackie Allen
4. Charlie Nicholson
5. Sarah Kendrew.
These were the ones that really hurt. Can you see your name in that lot, Laura? I reckon you'd sneak into the top ten, but there's no place for you in the top five; those places are reserved for the kind of humiliations and heartbreaks that you're just not capable of delivering. That probably sounds crueler than it is meant to, but the fact is that we're too old to make each other miserable, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing, so don't take your failure to make the list personally. Those days are gone, and good fucking riddance to them; unhappiness really meant something back then. Now it's just a drag, like a cold or having no money. If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have got to me earlier.
The Catcher in the Rye wrote: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.
A perfect introduction, not only to Holden's attitude, but to Salinger's "fuck you and your scrubbed, sanctified, unreal adolescents, previous writers" mentality.
The Big Sleep wrote:It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
A great beginning to a seminal novel, immediately establishing Chandler's iconic character, and not coincidentally giving the feel of a knight preparing his armor for battle.
I wish I had my copy of Fight Club here... Can't remember what its first line is. Chuck Palahniuk, though, is a master of of the first chapter. Invisible Monsters, in particular, is spectacular.
For a fascinating discussion of first lines, see Brett Easton Ellis's self-reflexive novel, Lunar Park, which has a wonderful first line of its own.
Lunar Park wrote:You do a good impression of yourself.