It Was The Best Of Lines

Jun 26, 2014

Can you name these literary classics after we've modernized their opening lines with current slang? "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is cray-cray in its own way."

Heard in Episode 320: We Might Be Giant Nerds

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You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. We're here playing trivia at BAM, otherwise known as the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and with me is our one-man house band Jonathan Coulton.


EISENBERG: Let's say hello to next two contestants Nicholas Coyne and Krissa Corbett Cavouras.


EISENBERG: Welcome, Nicholas. Welcome, Krissa. You both love to read. What is one book you remember from your childhood or young adulthood that really scared you? Krissa?

KRISSA CORBETT CAVOURAS: I read "Rosemary's Baby" by myself in my first week of college, and I had no friends. And it was in the middle of the day. And then I just stepped outside and looked at the sky and was sure of nothing, you know?


EISENBERG: You're like, is it going to ever be OK again?

CAVOURAS: (Laughing).

EISENBERG: Nicholas?

NICHOLAS COYNE: The "Goosebumps" series.


EISENBERG: Were you also reading that in college?


COYNE: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, all right. This game doesn't have to do with scary books. I was just curious. This game is called It Was The Best Of Lines because, you know, great novels grab your attention 'cause they have a killer first line.

And we wanted to appeal to new readers so we thought we'd update them with some current language. So in this game we're going to give you the first line of a famous novel with just one word change to modernize the work. So for an example, let's go to our puzzle guru Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: So what's the classic Herman Melville story that almost begins with the line, call me maybe?


CHUNG: That would be "Moby Dick."

EISENBERG: OK, so all you have to do is identify the novel from its altered first line and the winner of this round will move on to our final round at the end of the show.

All happy families are alike. Each unhappy family is cray-cray in its own way.



CAVOURAS: "Anna Karenina."



EISENBERG: In our family there was no clear line between bromance and fly fishing. How about a hint?

CHUNG: Sure. This novella set in Montana was made into a 1992 movie starring Brad Pitt.



CAVOURAS: "A River Runs Through It" was a book?



EISENBERG: Sometimes they make movies into books.

CAVOURAS: (Lauging) That makes more sense.

EISENBERG: 1801 - I have just returned from a visit to my landlord, the solitary hipster that I shall be troubled with.

CHUNG: Your hint is - it's not "Jane Eyre."


JONATHAN COULTON: That narrows it down.

CHUNG: Your other hint is I didn't like this book in high school.

EISENBERG: How about another hint?

CHUNG: Your third hint is Emily Bronte's tale of romantic heartbreak was set on the moors of England.


CAVOURAS: Oh, I mean, I say that like I know. "Wuthering Heights"?

EISENBERG: Krissa, yes, that is correct.


EISENBERG: Many years later as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover pilates.


EISENBERG: Nicholas.

COYNE: "One Hundred Years Of Solitude"?

EISENBERG: That is correct.

CHUNG: I'm reading that right now.

EISENBERG: (Laughing) Really?

CHUNG: Yeah.

EISENBERG: This was the moment when things in your life came together. This is your last question.

Tyler gets me a job as a waiter. After that, Tyler's pushing a cronut in my mouth and saying the first step to eternal life is that you have to die.



CAVOURAS: "Fight Club."

EISENBERG: That is right.


EISENBERG: Puzzle guru, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Well, Krissa did amaze-balls, and she is our winner.


EISENBERG: Thank you so much Nicholas. Krissa, you will be moving on to our Ask Me One More final run at the end of the show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.