Most arresting opening lines
Ilya Ilf & Evgeny Petrov – The Golden Calf, 1931
One should be nice to pedestrians.
Pedestrians comprise the better part of humanity.
A cutting satire and one of the funniest books ever published in the Soviet Union, The Golden Calf was beloved by generations of Russian intellectuals. Some guys at my university could recite pages of it verbatim. Its starting lines are classic in Russia. The hero, Ostap Bender, is a charming and clever conman. His name and adventures are anecdotal; they’ve almost passed from literature to folklore.
The latest English translation was published in 2009. I don’t know if it is any good. I read the original.