This is an interesting feature at Writer Unboxed: Would You Pay to Turn the First Page of this Bestseller?
This novel was number one on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list for August 22, 2021. How strong is the opening page—would it, all on its own, hook an agent if it was submitted by an unpublished writer?
Isn’t that interesting? Don’t you want to read the page?
Here’s the first paragraph:
Billy Summers sits in the hotel lobby, waiting for his ride. It’s Friday noon. Although he’s reading a digest-sized comic book called Archie’s Pals ’n’ Gals, he’s thinking about Émile Zola, and Zola’s third novel, his breakthrough, Thérèse Raquin. He’s thinking it’s very much a young man’s book. He’s thinking that Zola was just beginning to mine what would turn out to be a deep and fabulous vein of ore. He’s thinking that Zola was— is— the nightmare version of Charles Dickens. He’s thinking that would make a good thesis for an essay. Not that he’s ever written one.
The entire first page is at the link — plus a poll: Would you turn the page or wouldn’t you?
Having read the whole first page: I would not. I dislike present tense. An author can make me like a novel written in present tense, but the author is pushing uphill to make that work for me. This does not get me over that hill. There is a nice line here — a nightmare version of Charles Dickens — but that is the only thing I like about the opening page.
Does anyone recognize this? I did not. I assumed this would be a literary work. It isn’t. You will absolutely for sure recognize the author’s name. Click through, answer the poll question, and see if you’re surprised by the author. I was.