Fools leave too soon
Built to fill roles
And fall, standing alone again
Distant and dissatisfied
These four years
And how we say goodbye to these four years
A long goodbye with mixed emotions
Just fragments of another life
Not dead yet
But the regrets (are killing me)
– American Football, “But the Regrets are Killing Me”
These are the lyrics that I picked to open my second novel, Summer Complex. I’ve always been fascinated with the quotes and song lyrics that many authors choose to precede their first chapter. They are meant to convey the themes and overall tone of the book, often boiling its true message down to just a few lines. For me, this song by American Football was a clear winner. It hit on my protagonist Tyler Morris’ sense of defeat and the futile meandering he experiences after graduating from Tech State College and becoming stuck in the small West Texas town of Presidio Plains. “And how we say goodbye to these four years…” A very fitting question for not only Tyler, but for any college-student-turned-graduate who wonders what they’re doing in life as they venture into a new and uncertain chapter.
What are your thoughts on opening quotes? Do you like the idea of using them or absolutely try and steer clear? I’d love to hear your thoughts.