It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. George Orwell, 1984. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway. In the film The Hours, a full-nosed, tight-lipped Nicole Kidman à la Virginia Woolf puffs away at her cheroot, dips her pen into ink and writes those famous first words with a vigor that foretells a masterpiece. But I didn’t write my first line first. I threw it in when I was thirty pages down like salt into a pan of soup, and now I don’t have a first line. I have some soup.