First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
- Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
- Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
- Finally… reveal the book!
Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway.
OMG WHERE IS HE?!?!
On New Year’s morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie—working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt—is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie’s car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.
Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie’s best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for “no problem”). Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly “foreign”— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire’s worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.
Zadie Smith’s dazzling first novel plays out its bounding, vibrant course in a Jamaican hair salon in North London, an Indian restaurant in Leicester Square, an Irish poolroom turned immigrant café, a liberal public school, a sleek science institute. A winning debut in every respect, White Teeth marks the arrival of a wondrously talented writer who takes on the big themes —faith, race, gender, history, and culture— and triumphs.
I feel terrible because I’m still trying to read this book. I feel so uneducated trying to read this because it’s legit taking me forever and I know that Zadie Smith is one of the well-talked about authors and all that. I want to like this novel a lot but I’m just… not… very into it as much as I want to be.
I think it’s because I legit am not liking two of the main characters and the first sections are about them so I have to deal with them first before I can get to the rest of the characters. I’m hoping that their children are better than their parents, and I’m assuming that we are going to see them when they are adults, but still. I don’t know. I also don’t know what I’m in for. I don’t tend to read reviews before I read the books so that I don’t have a biased viewpoint when I go into it… but I’m just really, really hoping that I can finish this before November. We will see!
Have you read this book yet? Did you know where this first line came from? I almost thought that the first line was longer than this, and then I took a closer look and it was actually a period, not a comma. Silly old me. I swear my eyes are so bad; this is why I wear glasses. And I was wearing glasses when I was typing that line out! Oh gosh.
2 thoughts on “First Line Fridays: October 22, 2020”
I tried to read a Zadie Smith book once and as a mood reader, it was definitely not what I was in the right mindset for. But I can imagine, even if I was in the right mindset, it would still be a difficult read. I don’t know if it was just that book but her writing style intimidates the heck out of me 😂 It is always really difficult to get into a book when you dislike the characters though… Good luck with it! Hope you can find the good/enjoyment in it eventually 🙂
I may have to look into this book. I only vaguely remember reading a Zadie Smith short story in university and I have to say it wasn’t all that thrilling. Maybe she just writes slower paced things—but the immigrant lives and themes are interesting and definitely worth exploration, whether in her books or someone else’s.