Saturday, October 8, 2011

What I Aspire to: First pages I just Love: Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'amour

It was May 14. In a few days my class back in Jamestown North Dakota would be graduating from high school, and I was in Singapore.

Again, the first line(s) catch us. Who ever we might think Louis L'amour is... we know he isn't what might be thought of as a typical kid from North Dakota. He is an adventurer... and I want to know more. 

But instead of jumping immediately into how a boy of 18 happens to have found himself in Singapore... nope.. Louis surprises us again by saying .. "This is not the story of how I came to be in Singapore, that is to be told elsewhere." Instead he talks about books and poetry and learning with such passion and interest you can't help but want to go along. 

This is a book with a mission-- It seeks to discuss the possibility that education doesn't happen in schools. Mr. L'amour lays his mission out quickly in the space of a page and by page 5 we are back to being fully immersed in his very interesting life.

So, what do I take away from these opening pages?

Don't be predictable. Don't be boring. Open with a bang, but give them a twist.

Give them more than a pretty face. In this memoir his "character" is a rough and tumble sea-going man... who loves reciting the poetry of Kipling in lumber camps and sailor's bars. He is a character with depth, and we know that right away. 

If you have a "message" and you must address it directly get it out of the way and let the narrative do your arguing for you. 

Oh, and anyone who is sitting laughing behind your hand at me reading the Louis L'amour memoir... go read it. I don't particularly care for westerns... (I know, I know. He wrote more than just westerns) But this book is beautifully written and so interesting.

**Comments are always welcome! And if you want to participate and examine the first pages of your favorite novel... Hit me up here or on Twitter.**


Kelly Stone Gamble said...

'If you have a "message" and you must address it directly get it out of the way and let the narrative do your arguing for you.' Well said, and L'Amour is a great example of this.

Lela Gwenn said...

Thanks Kelly! This is truly one of my favorite books.