Literature 101: Pop Quiz

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on April 4, 2012 0 Comments

Here’s a chance to show off your savoir-faire. You could call this the Gather Literary Aptitude Test (GLAT). Just kidding, of course. The selected books in this quiz just happen to be the ones I’ve borrowed from a public library.

Match the opening lines to the books and their authors. Ready, you may begin. You have exactly all the time you want to complete this pop quiz. Oh, and by the way it’s entirely optional.  I dare say this is an easy test, easier perhaps than the Monday New York Times crossword.

Answers are shown below the book choices and the five quoted opening lines.

The book choices for the quoted opening lines:

A. John Hassler, The New Woman (Viking, 2005)

B. Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary (Simon & Schuster,  1998)

C. William Shakespeare,  Love’s Labor’s Lost (Signet Classics, 2004)

D. Amanda Cross, The Collected Stories (Ballantine Books, 1997)

E. Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven (Scribner, 2008)


The opening lines:

1. “In the early Fifties, when San Juan first became a tourist town, an ex-jockey named Al Arbonito built a bar in the patio behind his house on Calle O’Leary. He called it Al’s Backyard and hung a sign above his dorrway on the street, with an arrow pointing between two ramshackle buildings to the patio in back. At first he served nothing but beer, at twenty cents a bottle, and rum, at a dime a shot or fifteen cents with ice. After several months he began serving hamburgers, which he made himself.”

2. “My name is Leighton Fansler. I have long wanted to publish some of the cases of my aunt, Kate Fansler, who, while never a private investigator in any professional sense–she certainly never had a license nor was she paid–took on, like Sherlock Holmes and Peter Wimsey, many interesting cases. She had been adamant until now about her refusal to let me tell the story of any of her cases, and no one can be more adamant than Kate Fansler. I finally got her to admit, however, that this case was an exception. All those intimately concerned with it are now dead, and no harm could be done to anyone in the telling of it. Indeed, she mused, it might be of help to some.”

3.King. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,

Live regist’red upon our brazen tombs

And then grace us in the disgrace of death,

When, spite of cormorant devouring time,

Th’ endeavor of this present breath may buy

That honor which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge

And make us heirs of all eternity.

Therefore, brave conquerors–for so you are

That war against your own affections

And the huge army of the world’s desires–

Our late edict shall strongly stand in force:

Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;

Our court shall be a little academe,

Still and contemplative in living art.”


4. “Agatha McGee had been a resident of the Sunset Senior Apartments only three days when she realized that she’d lost the diamond brooch her parents had given her when she’d graduated from Staggerford High School in 1927. Having spent the morning looking for it until she was too exhausted to stir herself for lunch in the dining room downstairs, she sat in her rocking chair by the window and absently watched the traffic pass below her on Main Street.”

5. “Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moon-driven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.”



Answers A. 4.    B. 1.    C. 3.    D. 2     E. 5.














About the Author ()

Leave a Reply