The Humorous Opening

It’s hard to miss when you start with something funny.

I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.

Bill Byson, The Lost Continent

Bryson begins his travelogue through small-town America in his home state of Iowa. We join him as he travels thirteen thousand miles, east to west, smiling and chuckling all the way with his wit and droll observations.

Regarding his frequently intoxicated neighbor, he says, “Everywhere you went you encountered telephone poles and road signs leaning dangerously in testimony to Mr. Piper’s driving habits.” And while on his crisscross country tour he noticed a sign which read, “BUCKLE UP. IT’S THE LAW IN ILLINOIS. Clearly, however, it was not an offense to be unable to punctuate.” But it was Bryson’s opening line that prepared us for this wole enjoyable ride. As does this:

Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift.

Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace

With a fine comic touch we see immediately that our murder victim is so self-absorbed she couldn’t be counted on to buy her own husband a Christmas present – even if her life depended on it.

from “Write Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality” by Andrew T. Le Peau, Intervarsity Press