In response to something I wrote in the book roundup for April (about my once having eaten lunch with Cary Grant), Sylvia wrote the following sentence:
I once drank a beer in a dirt pit which had previously been Cary Grant’s swimming pool.
Lisa Kenney, who doesn’t miss much, immediately wrote to say that this was a GREAT opening sentence for a novel. I had thought the same thing; in fact, I’d figured out what the basic setup for the book would be. I’ll show you mine in a minute, but first, a contest:
I’ll give away four autographed copies of my new Bangkok novel, The Fourth Watcher, to the four people who come up with the best ideas for a novel that opens with Sylvia’s sentence. If there are more than four good ideas, I’ll sign and mail more books. Here are the rules:
Entries should be sent in the form of replies to this post.
No entry should be more than two paragraphs long.
Entries should be received by Monday, May 12.
The beer-in-the-dirt-pit scene can NOT be a dream sequence, just because I hate books that begin with dream sequences.
Okay. Here’s mine.
It’s 2050. Fifteen years earlier, in the first documented act of Divine Intervention in 2000 years, God destroyed Hollywood. In the aftermath of the conflagration, church attendance has risen by 500% and all administrations since have claimed power on the basis of their access to God’s latest whims. But a secret opposition has arisen, bent on rediscovering the past of American popular culture, and the foot soldiers in this hidden war are rogue anthropologists who are sifting through the ashes of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, which was destroyed two days later as a Divine Afterthought. The narrator — she who drank the beer in the pit — is an anthropologist named Helen Mayer, who is also the great-great granddaughter of Louis B. Mayer, the founder of MGM. And she has a secret personal agenda, one that can only be realized by the rediscovery of nine minutes in Shirley Temple’s incinerated classic “Wee Willie Winkie.”
Now, come on. Anyone can do better than that.