The day after I received this Google alert, a colleague queried me via Facebook about The Plutocrat, the story having been mentioned by Orson Welles during an interview with Peter Bogdanovich some years ago. Very odd to have the book come up twice in succession like that, considering how little know this work is… though it was produced by Fox as Business and Pleasure in 1932, with Will Rogers as Tinker and Joel McCrea as Ogle.
Shorpy.com, “The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog,” has posted a high-res photo of a 1908 New Orleans news-stand that carries a number of magazines in which Tarkington’s work appeared, such as McClure’s, Everybody’s, Collier’s, Harper’s, and the Saturday Evening Post. You really ought to take a pop over and click on the image to get a close-up look.
Believe it or not, one enterprising writer, Bruce L. Weaver, has published a compilation of Novel Openers – First Sentences of 11,000 Fictional Works, Topically Arranged with Subject, Keyword, Author and Title Indexing. I can only assume that Weaver is far more familiar with Tarkington than the average reader. Considering that Tarkington wrote less than 50 novels total (depending on which ones actually count as “novels”), 36 is an extraordinarily large percentage to include here. Personally, I wouldn’t rate Tarkington’s opening lines or paragraphs particularly high. Opening chapters, yes. But I honestly can’t recall a single opening line of a Tarkington novel.