Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Old Beginnings 18


All of them published. Sources posted below.

1. The rumour spread through the city like wildfire (which had quite often spread through Ankh-Morpork since its citizens had learned the words 'fire insurance').

The dwarfs can turn lead into gold . . .It buzzed through the fetid air of the Alchemists' quarter, where they had been trying to do the same thing for centuries without success but were certain that they'd manage it by tomorrow, or next Tuesday at least, or the end of the month for definite.

2. Charles was rather short for a midget. Even for a circus midget. Raising a tiny fist, he punched his kneeling comrade in the shoulder blade. “Why can’t you be more accommodating?” he shouted up at the back of Milovan’s shirt collar.

Milovan twisted his head around and looked behind him at Charles standing two feet below. “You’re asking me for too much, you little pervert. That’s why.”

3. If this typewriter can't do it, then fuck it, it can't be done.

This is the all-new Remington SL3, the machine that answers the question, "Which is harder, trying to read The Brothers Karamazov while listening to Stevie Wonder records or hunting for Easter eggs on a typewriter keyboard?" This is the cherry on top of the cowgirl. The burger served by the genius waitress. The Empress card.

I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3--although it writes much faster than I can spell. And no matter that my typing finger was pinched last week by a giant land crab. This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.

4. THERE were four of us--George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were--bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that he had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what he was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

5. That evening it was dark early, which was normal for the time of year. It was cold and windy, which was normal.

It started to rain, which was particularly normal.

A spacecraft landed, which was not.

There was nobody around to see it except for some spectacularly stupid quadrupeds who hadn't the faintest idea what to make of it, or whether they were meant to make anything of it, or eat it, or what. So they did what they did to everything, which was to run away from it and try to hide under each other, which never worked.

Old Beginnings 18

1. The Truth.....Terry Pratchett
2. "The Circus Hand's Desertion".....Daniel Pearlman
3. Still Life with Woodpecker.....Tom Robbins
4. Three Men in a Boat.....Jerome K. Jerome
5. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.....Douglas Adams


Virginia Miss said...

I really liked #1, and I would have kept reading #5 too.

I didn't like #2, 3, and 4. Nothing drew me in enough to want to see more

Is one of these by a minion? Are we supposed to guess?

Evil Editor said...

None by a minion this time. Sorry.

megan said...

Is there something wrong with me if I didn't find any of these funny? No, wait... #5 made me smile briefly. I'd read on in #5 or #4.

The others were trying way too hard. Absurd does not necessarily mean funny, authors.

whitemouse said...

#1 and #5 I've read, and enjoyed. Great authors in both cases.

#3 made me snicker. #2 made me curious; #4 didn't.

*creeps off to check the answers*

Christine said...

I've read #2, #3, and #5. I think I may have even read #4 - it's strangely familiar. However, I don't want to read #4.

bunnygirl said...

We lost a great satirist when Douglas Adams died.


Felix said...

The funniest thing up there is that little birdie.

2readornot said...

I liked them...but I almost never read comedy on its own...funny mystery writers are great, though;)

Pete Tzinski said...

It's too bad that #1 and #5 AREN'T written by Minions, though. Then again, although I can be certain that Douglas Adams (5) isn't reading this, who knows? Maybe Terry Pratchett (1) is reading this.

Number from "The Colour of Magic" I think. But I'm not certain at all.

Number 5 is from "So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish"

RainSplats said...

I liked #5.

Dave said...

I recognized #5.
I thought they all were funny but I wouldn't have read #4.

HawkOwl said...

Eighteen years since I read #4 and I recognized it by the tenth word. It was damn funny. I should read it again. It's British though, so not everyone's kind of humour. Thought I recognized #5, too. The movie cut out my favourite part.

For the rest, I'm intrigued by #1. #2, no. Anything that involves the word "pervert" isn't my cup of tea. #3... Too much talk, not enough funny.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't read #1, but said to myself, "gotta be Terry Pratchett." By the end of the first sentence -- seriously.

acd said...

Seriously, #4 is about the funniest book I ever read. 125 years old and it cracked me the heck up.

Skott Klebe said...

#4 is possibly the funniest book I've ever read; I've never read it all the way through at a sitting because I always have to stop to let the face cramps subside. It's British and over a hundred years old, so the language is a little different.
#1 is one of the better books by the author, who's one of the funniest people still writing; lately, he's been writing a little more story and a little less comedy. If you're familiar with his work, the parenthetical in the first sentence is quite funny; if you aren't, I expect it's annoying or even puzzling.

xiqay said...

1. This was okay, but except for Ankh-Morpork as a name and the discovery of fire insurance, it's not particularly funny. As a set-up for comedy to come, it's working. But I'm not sure I'd read on.

2. Circus midgets--not my thing. Even the addition of perverts doesn't make me laugh. Unless the author is someone I want to read from past experience, I would stop here.

3. I have the feeling I've read this (eons ago, when a Remington SL3 would have been new!). I don't actually remember this bit, but find that it's hilarious as written. The leap in technology has taken some of the shine off. I'd keep reading though.

4. Old people sitting around complaining about their ills--can be a pain or can be humorous. Here it's funny and I just know something more is going to happen. Not sure why this works, it seems so simple, but maybe that's it.

5. I may have read this one, too. It has a charming start. Love the quadrupeds and their reaction. I'd keep reading.

xiqay said...

#3. When I got to the cowgirl, I thought this was Tom Robbins, but then I was pretty sure it wasn't Even Cowgirls Get the I was too chicken to say in my post (before checking) what I suspected. Such a wimp I am. (At least that vague recollection of reading it, and #5, was correct.)

Going to check out #4 after the recommendations (and my initial yes).

Nikki said...


I love that book.

It's quintessentially British though. I can see why people from other countries would be put off even from the first few lines.

Chumplet said...

What? No Stephen Leacock? His writing was similar to the style of #1. He was one of Canada's most famous humourists. Check him out sometime.

Cathy Writes Romance said...


There must be something wrong with the both of us. My interest is not piqued by any of these beginnings either.

Anonymous said...

Recognized #1 immediately (before Ankh-Morpork, even). One of my favorite authors ever.

Ashamedly I did not recognize #5 right away, despite having read it several times. Sigh.

I'd read on for all the others, but I wasn't particularly excited by #2 or #3. I'm really intrigued by #4, though, especially after all the recommendations here. Maybe I'll have to check it out.

Dave said...

How can anyone not like the fourth book in a trilogy?

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Pratchett and Adams totally rule!

I adore British humor. Gonna have to find that #4 somewhere...

anonyme said...

Oh! MY! God! Three Men In a Boat! This is one of my all-time favorite books - absolutely hilarious. I read this when I was in my teens and I still have it along with its companion Three Men on a Bummel. I still laugh out loud when I reread them every few years.

Oh and I liked No. 1 as well.

anonyme said...

Xiqay - sorry I didn't read the comments before leaping to add mine but these aren't old guys - they're young. And Montmorency is a dog. Give the book a chance!

Anonymous said...

"Three Men in A Boat" - Yes, Excellent.

Do yourselves a favour, at no risk: it's available for free at Project Guttenburg...

Anonymous said...

A friend reccommended that I read Tom Robbins. I suffered through two chapters before I tossed the book aside. I think it was the worst shtuff I have ever read. -JTC

Ashni said...

#1. I live in fear that one day I will actually read one of these. Then I'll like it as much as everyone else does, and I'll have to buy the other 137 of them.

#2. Short jokes. No thank you.

#3. Author telling me how clever he is or isn't. Possibly both. No thank you.

#4. I have heard nothing but raves about this book, but the beginning doesn't grab me. Possibly because people going on about their medical problems is not high on my list of entertainments.

#5. I've read it and liked it. Not recently enough, really.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Recognized #1 immediately. Still suffering through THUD! - going on a month now, when it usually takes me only 2-3 days to read a novel.

Robbins and Douglas are on my TBR, but after what JTC said, I'm not in a rush now.

Saralee said...

Okay, I'll play.

1. Sounds fun. I like the alchemists.

2. Nah. Not my style. Not that I wouldn't like it if there were more to read, but I haven't warmed up to it in that short excerpt. (Sorry about the "short.")

3. Awesome. I love it.

4. Nah. Slow getting off the ground. Maybe a person needs to have health problems before this whole scene becomes funny.

5. Hah! Douglas Adams! I loved the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and even liked the Dirk Gently stories (of which this is one). Big fun.