Friday, August 14, 2009


Nic Brown's fiction has appeared in the Harvard Review, Glimmer Train, Epoch, The South Carolina Review, and Time Out Amsterdam.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to Floodmarkers, his acclaimed first book, and reported the following:
I was recently honored with an invitation to speak at the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club. This filled me with certain level of apprehension, for several reasons. First, I've never been to a Rotary Club before. I'm a 32-year-old former rock drummer. Secondly, my book Floodmarkers contains a certain amount of transgressive behavior. There is foul language. There are naked people. It's contemporary fiction, you know, so this is all par for the course, but when it comes to Rotary, I didn't want to push boundaries. So I read from the story "Steak," the most conservative story in the book. It involves an older woman whose sudden and profound interactions with a lost pit bull allow her to engage with life in a way she hasn't in years. There isn't a foul word in the whole story. And in fact, page 69 might be the safest page in the whole book. It is as follows:

Evelyn was tenderizing a skirt steak on her chopping block. She hit it hard and loud. She’d pulled it from the freezer earlier that morning, when the electricity had first gone out. The refrigerator had begun to thaw, and the steak hadn’t been cheap. She didn’t remember exactly how long it had been there, but it couldn’t just sit out. She might as well have it for lunch.

The phone was still working, and Evelyn had it wedged between her shoulder and ear, the spiral yellow cord stretching taut across the room.

“He could have died,” she was saying. “He’s still in the hospital, you know. He still might.”

Ruthie Lingle was on the other end. She was a friend from Forbis and Dick Funeral Home. She worked there, in the business office. Evelyn knew her only from going there so often.

“This is going to sound silly,” Ruthie said. “But are you sure it was a seizure?”

“That’s what the, um.”


“Yes. What the EMT said.”

“And you found him. Can you believe? Of all people.”

“I don’t think of myself as a hero, really,” Evelyn said. She thudded the mallet into the meat and a piece of something shot up, into her left eye. She squeezed her eyes shut and set the mallet down, then just stood there with her eyes closed and her head thrown back.

“Did you really just say that?” Ruthie said.

“What? Yes. He’s still in the hospital, you know. Hasn’t been home yet. What a day.”

“Don’t think of yourself as a hero. I cannot believe you said that. What—”

It's my book, it's my writing, and this is a good page and, in fact, it was a great page for Rotary (who, incidentally, were wonderful to me and very engaging – not at all as stuffy as I had expected), but I wouldn't say it is representative of Floodmarkers because of the following reason: I felt very comfortable reading this page to Rotary. However, I would not feel very comfortable reading the whole book to Rotary.
Learn more about Floodmarkers and the author at Nic Brown's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue