Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Ewan Morrison is the author of the novels Distance, Swung, and Ménage as well as the collection of short stories The Last Book You Read. He also writes a weekly column for Scotland on Sunday under the name Weegie Bored.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to Ménage and reported the following:
Page sixty nine of Ménage seems, at first, totally atypical in that it barely contains mention of the protagonists – since the book is about a ménage a trios and so has three main characters this seems very strange indeed.

However, page sixty nine is a big symbolic pivot, one that propels the three rather innocent young friends: Dot, Saul and Owen, into a world of transgression from which they will emerge lovers in a ménage a trios who ultimately abuse and exploit each other.

It is 1992, Hoxton, London - the centre of the Young British Art Scene (Damien Hirst, et al). And Dot, Owen and Saul are struggling to be artists but - they need a catalyst.

On page sixty nine they are embarking on their quest to ‘turn their lives into a work of Art.’ They set out to pay a visit to Edna -‘The exemplary living artwork’. She is an enigma, they think her ‘seer-like’, ‘like an oracle’; she has gone to the very limit of the known world in drug induced hallucination. In her ‘dreadlocks with ribbons, Kaftans, Kimonos and Jesus Sandals’ it is as if she were ‘Some kind of hybrid Hindu Swami meets Rastafarian bong Queen, meets … Hare Krishna.’

Saul dresses androgynously to meet his guru with ‘Chanel Scarf round and his waist and two beauty spots.’ There is much laughter and nervous excitement among the three.

But Edna they will discover by the end of the book is no seer. Edna is not even a woman, but a very confused and damaged older man with fake breasts, a fake history and a drug addiction that’s forced him into dealing narcotics.

Saul, Dot and Owen set out, all three ‘bouncing along, arms interlocked’ unaware that Edna symbolises not the peak of artistic success but a downward spiral that awaits all who accept the Faustian pact of turning ones life into a work of art.

Such is the portentous innocence of page 69.
Learn more about the book and author at Ewan Morrison's website.

Read Morrison's essay "Death of a Nihilst or Obituary for a Nobody," which reveals the background for Ménage.

Ménage has been released only in the U.K. to date, yet it is available to readers around the globe via

Read Morrison's top ten list of literary ménages à trois.

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

--Marshal Zeringue