FIRST LINES, LAST WORDS: This is a pop quiz. Following is a list of first lines and exit lines. The first lines are from books, relatively well-known or maybe not. The last lines are dying words by literary people, mostly well-known.
GOAL: The goal, for those who confuse easily, is to identify the book title and the dying literary lion. The first five people to do so and to send me the answers will win prizes, as follows:
MANY, MANY PRIZES
First – All four Poke Rafferty books, signed
Second and third – THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, signed
Fourth – THE FOURTH WATCHER and its Spanish version, EL CUARTO OBSERVADOR, signed (the Spanish book's inscription will be in, ahem, Spanish.)
Fifth – I'll think of something. It'll be a surprise!
And then there's a floating prize that anyone can choose over whatever prize he/she qualifies for: I'll edit and comment on 20 pages (double-spaced) of the winner's work-in-progress, accompanied by a one-page overview of the work. So if, say, the fourth-prize winner chooses the edit, I would move the fifth-place winner up to fourth and name a new fifth-place winner.
Still with me?
KICKER: Okay, here's the kicker. There's also an essay question at the end of the quiz, which I've added because I've always wanted to know what the hell the quotation means. The quotation is from Richard Harris's literally unlistenable hit McArthur Park, and I'm asking for an interpretation of the lyric. I don't care whether it's right (I privately believe there's no right answer). I'm looking for something plausible, however absurd, that actually uses the lyric as a starting point. Please hold your interpretations to 300 words. And don't use the word “ineffable” because I hate it.
KICKER PRIZES: In the case of a tie on the Q&A section of the quiz, the essay question will decide who wins, but essay interpretations will also qualify for prizes of their own. The second, third, and fourth-best interpretations will each receive a signed copy of THE FOURTH WATCHER because that's the title I've got the most of. The very best interpretation will win all four Poke books, signed. And, if I can find one, a VHS copy of “A Man Called Horse,” and someone to watch it with. (Subject to availability. Not legal in all areas. Watching companion cannot be transported over state lines. If you're under 18, you don't remember the song anyway.)
1 “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.”
2 “What was the question, Alice?”
3 “It's all over now; write, 'Eddy is no more'.”
4 “Does nobody understand?”
5 “It's been a long time since I had Champagne.”
6 “I must go in. The fog is rising.”
7 The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.
8 For a long time I would go to bed early.
9 Even Camilla had enjoyed masquerades, of the safe sort where the mask may be dropped at that critical moment it presumes itself as reality.
10 It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
11 If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all that before they had me, and all that David Copperfield crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
12 The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
Three hundred words, no more, explaining the following:
McArthur Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down.
Someone left my cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to make it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooooooooooo . . .
HOW TO ENTER:
1 Leave a comment on this site saying “I'm in” or something even more clever.
2 Do your best to answer – if you can't get them all, enter anyway. Who cares? Maybe no one will get them all.
3 E-mail your answers to email@example.com with the topic heading QUIZ ENTRY.
4 If you want the edit instead of any other prize you might win, just put EDIT at the end of the entry.