In the beginning ...
The opener of a novel can be a grabber.
The American Book Review compiled a list of what they consider the 100 best first lines, but it inclines more towards the novels' quality rather than that of the first words.
Another compendium of notable first lines:
List of First Lines
And the best shall be worst: The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is late in their judging of the 2008 contest.
Any particular favourites out there? I'll get it started with one of mine (not on the above lists):
It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me. -- Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers
(PS: I see obooki weighed in last year at the Guardian bookblog)