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George Saunders

It’s like this, and it is no dream: First off, a plastic palomino and its stiff-armed rider float above a toybox. The rider is a dyed Custer, and everything’s red. I mean boots and kerchief and holster and eyebrows even.

Tobias Wolff

If it takes a kind of genius to strike gold, then I am a genius. In fact my genius blows me away sometimes. Today, reading George Saunders’ story “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room” for the first time in many years—since 1986, to be exact—I am transported to my old living room […]

David Hancock

Bobby Alamo’s dead. Just don’t know it yet. No footprints. Hair stopped growing. Sense of taste is gone. He only exhales now. Like he’s got one last breath inside him and needs to dole it out.

For the “Firsts” issue we reached out through social media and asked our Hunger Mountain friends to share their favorite first lines of literature. Here are a few of them.

Laura Farmer

The house we stood in front of had a stained glass representation of the birth of Christ as a picture window. I put down one of my cases of beer and looked at Robert, my college boyfriend. The New Year’s Eve party was here?

Joanne Clarkson

Among barnacles and agates
as tides leak up the beach
she picks through litter
to choose a new labyrinth…

Doug Ramspeck

Hard to tell the birds from their voices
in the darkening field where hemoglobin

clouds drift low to the earth, bleeding
along their underbellies

Shelley Girdner

Greedy doll, so greedy you swallowed
four more like you, each with a rosebud mouth
matching floral blouse and hair kerchief too.

Lisa Rosinsky

Well I was definitely a cat, in one of them,
and I think I might have also been the captive
of a pirate or a robber, someone swashbuckling…

Phillip Garcia

Like a lot of people approaching their first book review, I have no idea what I’m doing. So, for my sake, and for the sake of other would-be reviewers, I decided that, in addition to my review, I would compile a guide on writing book reviews. Never mind that I’ve never done this before…

Donald Quist

Hunger Mountain Roving Editor, Donald Quist, snapped these photos of Siam Commercial Bank’s ad campaign celebrating life’s firsts.

A.S. King

Sometimes a great opening never becomes a book–even for an award-winning author. A.S. King was kind enough to share this enchanting beginning that never bloomed into a novel.

Tom Angleberger

Here we have the story of two ways to open a book.

We asked writers, editors, and educators to remember Walter Dean Myers, the author of more than 100 books, whose profound contributions to children’s literature go well beyond the printed word.

Bethany Hegedus

Hunger Mountain editor Bethany Hegedus is the author of Grandfather Gandhi, a new picture book she co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. The book, released in March 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, was illustrated by Evan Turk. Here, with an introduction by Matthew Winner, Bethany interviews Evan about his picture book debut.

Rachel Furey

Mom always said my first kiss would make my scalp tingle—make it light up like a summer field filled with fireflies. My first kiss wasn’t like that at all. My legs dangled from a chair in Nurse Jenkins’ office. I had a roll of gauze twisted into my right nostril.

Q Lindsey Barrett

That’s what you, dear writer, must do. Whether novel, short story, memoir, or essay, all prose openings must seduce your reader to keep reading, an increasingly difficult task in our world of constant distraction. You must make your reader fall in love.

Q Lindsey Barrett

As assistant fiction editor at Hunger Mountain I read a lot of fiction submissions, and sometimes writers ask what I’m looking for in a piece of fiction. The simple answer is that I’m looking to fall in love. We all feel this way, all the HM editors: we love to fall in love with your […]

This gallery is in answer to Hunger Mountain‘s open call for one-minute videos addressing the notion of First Experiences. We asked artists to interpret this notion in the broadest possible terms. Here is an assorted and provocative sampling of what we received:    

Kerri Augenstein

…what a great opportunity to sit in the same space as all of the amazing authors occupying all of the brilliant content of Hunger Mountain.

Joseph Bruchac

Who sang

the first song?

What human throat

first set free a note

Richard Adams Carey

The Fish came on. If you listen close enough to “Section 43,” you can hear the beating heart of God. The first time is still the best.

Diane Lefer

Hallucinatory fever dreams, the taste of blood in my mouth, the smell of mildew from the old volume’s pages…

Michael Czyzniejewski

I paced around my house for several hours, too afraid of the Misfit to turn out the lights, too excited about what writing could be to not read the story again.

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky

I was five or six the first time I had the living daylights scared out of me by the bugling of elk. We were high up in the Rocky Mountains, lost in the deep-sea darkness of the wilderness at night, and I was perched on the roof of my parents’ car. My mom had wrapped […]

Deborah Vlock

This was not, strictly speaking, my first time. I had done it now and again with the famous one, Charles, and a posse of anonymous theatrical types. Every one of our hook-ups, if you want to call them that, as alien and lovely as Victorian horsehair upholstery against bare legs. There was always that papery feel of aged skin under my fingers and a lingering scent of the last century…

Leah Kaminsky

The first murder Peter Doherty ever witnessed was committed by his own sweet, grey-haired grandmother back in the 1940s. He was a young child living on the outskirts of the then sleepy town of Brisbane, in Northern Australia. She took him by the hand and led him down to the ‘chook house’ at the bottom of the garden, grabbing a flapping hen along the way.