Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Mark Haskell Smith's new novel is Salty.

The author applied the "page 69 test" to his book and reported the following:
For obvious reasons I wish that page 69 of Salty featured some mouth on genital action. How cool would that be? Even better if the characters were actually doing a “69” on page 69. Or is that too meta? But in my new novel there’s not a mention of oral sex until page 2, and then not a real description of a character in “the act” until page 159.

So what happens on page 69?

It’s a half page, at the end of a chapter.

“I apologize.”

He walked back to his spot on the floor and sat down. He refilled his bourbon and lit another cigarette. Sheila watched him. She could sense that he was suddenly troubled by something.

“Where are you from?”

“The United States.”

“But there are black people, brown people, in your country. Not everyone is white like you.”

Sheila nodded.

“My mother was from Denmark. My father is Norwegian.”

Somporn considered that for a moment as the water in the shower slowed to a trickle and stopped. Sheila grabbed a towel – a nice one too, pilfered from a four-star hotel – and began to dry herself. Somporn was watching her, entranced, and yet she could tell that his thoughts were elsewhere. Finally he spoke.


He said it like it was a magical word.

My novels are about, among other things, what constitutes identity. In Salty, a fading rock star and his supermodel wife, Sheila, are jolted out of their pampered and privileged universe by Sheila’s kidnapping. As the story unfolds they discover several truths about themselves, their marriage, and the nature of monogamy. It is a journey of self-discovery, although I’m not sure Dr. Phil would approve.

In the scene on page 69, Sheila has taken a shower with her abductor, the Thai pirate Captain Somporn, watching her. She is exposed, vulnerable, and scared, yet Somporn’s reaction to her nudity – and in particular to her alabaster skin – disarms her. The seeds of a nascent and kinky Stockholm Syndrome are planted. And for Captain Somporn, well, he has just discovered that he is deeply and erotically moved by the sight of her pale skin – the color of raw squid - a fetish he didn’t know he had.
Learn more about Salty at the author's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue