An excerpt from The Elephanta Suite: Three Novellas by Paul Theroux, loosely connected and set in India, to be published by Houghton Mifflin September 26. Not first lines, per se, but from the latter third:

“The Indian novels she’d read in the States had not prepared her for what she saw here. Where were the big fruitful families from these novels? Where were the jokes, the love affairs, the lavish marriage ceremonies, the solemn pieties, the virtuous peasants, the environmentalists, the musicians, the magic, the plausible young men? They seemed concocted to her now, and besieged in up-close India, all she thought of was Heironymus Bosch, turtle-faced crones, stumpy men, deformed children.”