apropos of nothing

Time-Waster of the Day: TwitterLit

Alan Alda writes a surprisingly good first sentence.Photo: Getty Images

Which one of these is the first sentence of Alan Alda’s autobiography?

“Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.”

“When I was about eleven or twelve I set up a lab in my house.”

“My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six, but she must have shown signs of oddness before that.”

“Here is how my father describes our socioeconomic level: Working Stiffs.”

You might be surprised to learn it’s the third one. That’s the fun of TwitterLit, an extremely simple and extremely addictive site we’ve been goofing off with for the past half-hour. Twice a day creator Debra Hamel posts the first line of a book with no title or author information. Mull it over, try and guess the line’s provenance, and then — once you’ve figured it out or, more likely, once you give up in frustration — click on the accompanying link and get taken to the book’s Amazon page. Hamel mixes well-known books (“A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head,” from A Confederacy of Dunces) with less popular gems (“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken,” from Mary Roach’s nonfiction book Stiff), but all the first lines are eye-catching and can be delivered to your cell phone, via RSS feed, on a desktop widget, or any other of the myriad of ways Twitter dispenses information.

TwitterLit [Official Site]

Time-Waster of the Day: TwitterLit