John Palcewski's Journal

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Finalmente è morto
forioscribe




Over the past year I've been working steadily on WITNESS, my memoir, and I've tried and discarded a large number of different opening paragraphs. Tell me what you think of these:


My father died on a sunny Monday morning in mid-August, 2005, at his home in Austintown, Ohio. He was 89.

When I read his obituary I felt no emotion whatever, as if it were just a stock market report, or a weather forecast. In the days and weeks that followed, my continued non-reaction seemed peculiar. I thought something must be wrong with me. I ought to be feeling something, one way or another, like regret and sadness, or gratitude and elation. Anything. But I didn’t.


Deep in my psyche I just couldn’t believe he was dead. The obit, after all, might have been put into the Vindicator’s online archive by some genius hacker. So Chester was still alive, and nothing had changed.

Maybe if I had stood at his casket in the funeral parlor and looked down at his pale, waxy, lifeless face, and had gone to the cemetery to watch his coffin descend into the neat rectangular hole in the ground, I’d believe it. I didn’t get that opportunity, though, because nobody in his extended family felt obligated to invite me. It was entirely by accident that I found out, nearly six months later.

Would I have flown from Italy to America for his funeral? Probably not.






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(Deleted comment)
Actually both sections comprise my intended opening, but now that I look at the second section alone it could work very well. Thanks!

I read it as a whole and found it enthralling and intriguing. I would definitely want to go on from there and read more. (In fact, hurry up and finish it, won't you, and let me know when/where I can buy it!)

As noted, the second section alone would work too — but then you would have to work in the factual information somehow, somewhere. I think really you would do best to leave it as is.

Yes, I've come to more or less the same conclusion about the problem of starting with the second section. So I think I'll stick with using the whole thing...especially since a few people off LJ have said the same kind thing as you just did! Many thanks!

I think it works better as a whole. There is a nice starkness to the bare bones statement of fact. I'd use some additional blank lines between the first line and the following paragraphs to allow a visual suggestion of the stark delivery of a stark fact trying to sink in for you, and the fact that a bold truth like that is still something you were able to deny.



Many thanks, that's a most interesting suggestion!

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