Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Alyson Hagy was raised on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of three collections of short fiction and the novels Keeneland and Snow, Ashes. She lives and teaches in Laramie, Wyoming.

Hagy applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Boleto, and reported the following:
A new character steps into Boleto on page 69 – the eccentric veterinarian Art Slocum. Will’s filly has been hurt in a fracas with one of his father’s block-headed geldings, and Will is worried the injury is a bad one. He wants the best for the filly. But he doesn’t have a lot of money. After some discussion with his father and brother, he decides to contact Art. Art has a mixed reputation. Everyone believes he’s a great doctor. But not everyone likes his attitudes.

What does page 69 reveal about Boleto? I think it’s an example of how Will’s world is filled with craftsmen and itinerants, most of them generous with both animals and people. Art uses massage and a kind of “laying on of hands” to treat injured horses. He gets grief for his unusual habits. But he’s also earned respect because his methods work.

Will meets several older, blunt-talking characters like Art through the course of the novel. I wanted those characters to build a kind of community for the reader, something like the loosely-woven communities John Steinbeck builds among his flawed working men in novels like Tortilla Flats and Cannery Row. I also wanted Will to come into contact with men and women who’ve paid a price for living by their own rules. Will’s a quietly stubborn young fellow. He thinks he can make his own way. The novel tests that belief.

Finally, Art is a funny guy. He’s wry and willing to laugh at himself. Every book needs laughter, and plenty of it.
Learn more about Boleto at the Graywolf Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue