Am I the only one who remembers this doozie: "'Damn,' said the duchess as she walked down the stairs smoking a cigar." This is at least fifty years old. Or five hundred. But it was an example of a hook. As readers we're supposed to be mesmerized by the unlikeliness of it all -- the swearing aristocrat with a Roi Tan jones. What struck me then was the misplaced modifier. The stairs weren't smoking a cigar. Yet that's the only thing that would have made me read on.
If you want to play, just add first lines in the comment box. Either actual ones from real books/stories or ones you make up. After a few days we can vote on a winner. Or not.
Here's one from a Deb Olin Unferth's story in the July 2009 HARPER'S. And it isn't even a first line, but goddamn it (as Holden would say) it should be.
It's from a fictional student's ESL paper: "Thou laid really excellent basement."
Top that if you can.