Hemingway said that an important part of a writer’s job was to tell how the weather was. Start your book with a weather report like this, and you’ve got me hooked:
The summer I spent as a reporter covering the war between the oysters and the wilderness, every night was a foggy one. The long days ended with a relief that arrived in two stages. The first came when the outstretched arm of Tomales Bay began to fill again in the late afternoons, submerging the gasping mud flats and exposed estuarine grasses as the little waves came lapping in, reaching high tide just as darkness fell. The second came when the fog made its way over the forested ridge from the sea, rolling wetly down hillsides, across meadows, and into valleys. Still, as the clock ticked towards midnight, and then one, and then two, as I sat hunched over my desk night after night in the little newspaper office by the coast, I often wondered how it was that I found myself in the middle of all this.
That’s the opening paragraph of Summer Brennan’s The Oyster War: The True Story a of Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America.
This is the last paragraph of the prologue:
Newly back in town after ten years spent mostly away, it took a while to get my bearings. My life in the big city had been frenetic, and it was jarring to suddenly find myself one foggy spring night in Vladimir’s, a Czechoslovakian pub on the edge of Tomales Bay, eating fish and chips with septuagenarian cowboys. Wild mustard was still growing tall along the roadsides, clustered white and purple against the weathered wood of old barns. Evenings came on blue and heavy from out over the Pacific. Some friends were skeptical of my decision to abandon the city, even if only temporarily. But outside, beyond the glow of Vlad’s lanterns, the air was thick and wet and quiet, and it felt good to be home.
Like I said. Hooked.