As you may know, we are hosting a challenge to read through the list of 100 bestsellers recommended in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers. Primary Colors by Joe Klein is number 98 on the list, and we’ll be starting the full discussion on Monday.

Today we’re participating in a fun book meme hosted at Rose City Reader called Book Beginnings on Fridays. The premise to share the first sentence or so of a book you are reading and your thoughts about it.



Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics* by Joe Klein (Previously published anonymously)

(*Amazon affiliate link)

Background:   Primary Colors is an older book. It was first published anonymously in 1996, but later journalist Joe Klein admitted he was the author. A political novel, it follows an aide to a governor who is running for president.

It was made into a movie starring John Travolta in 1998. Movie trailer:

First paragraph:

He was a big fellow, looking seriously pale on the streets of Harlem in deep summer. I am small and not so dark, not very threatening to Caucasians; I do not strut my stuff.

Would you keep reading?

Discussion:  Klein has packed quite a bit into this first paragraph. He has chosen to start the book at the exact moment main character Henry Burton meets the governor who potentially will be his boss. In the first sentence  we learn Henry’s first impressions of the man, as well as the setting. In the second sentence, Henry introduces himself.

Opinion:  I found Henry’s description of himself confusing. The first part, “I am small” seems to be comparing himself to the “big fellow,” yet how could he be “not so dark” compared to someone who was “seriously pale?” I suspect he is exhibiting a bit of subtle humor?

What do you think?

Have you read this book? Did you see the movie?