Saturday, November 07, 2009

First Words (4)

"On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed facade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people; a decade ago it was almost deserted after its English clientele went north in April. Now, many bungalows cluster near it, but when this story begins only the cupolas of a dozen old villas rotted like water lilies among the massed pines between Gausse's Hotel des Etrangers and Cannes, five miles away."

F.Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

It's a common enough tactic for authors to use their first paragraphs to establish location, but the clever thing about this one is that Scott Fitzgerald is also signalling to us the complex chronology of the story to follow.

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