I am always in awe of a great first sentence. Dickens had the knack for this, " It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But even better in my opinion and appropriately seasonal is his Christmas Carol opener, "Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of this story I am going to relate." I am so impressed. And "the night was . . . .. and the night was . . .. and the night was sultry." (Throw Momma from the Train). Often a first page is a painfully awkward handshake; hard to coax readers on to the next page. If only they could perservere with patience to page five where finally self-consciousness is shed, and we are really cooking with gas.

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