He applied the Page 69 Test to Poison Shy, his first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Poison Shy marks the beginning of chapter seven. It opens with a bang, and plunges right into the mystery, angst, and corruption – both physical and moral – that drift through the whole book like poison gas.Learn more about the book and author at the publisher's website and Stacey Madden's Twitter perch.
“I woke the next morning in a tangle of bloodstained sheets.”
Brandon Galloway, the loser-hero of the novel, has just survived a night of “sexual aerobics” with the sassy and vulgar Melanie Blaxley, his femme fatale, only to wake and find her gone. This abandonment is nothing new for Brandon, who was frequently abandoned by his father as a child, and who is mentally and emotionally detached from his schizophrenic mother.
He calls out “Hello?”, and the only reply comes from the plumbing in the walls. Isolation is a theme that runs through the novel like the undoing of a zipper.
Brandon then realizes he’s late for work – also nothing new, as he’s always scrambling and fumbling about. He’d had quite a bit to drink the night before, which leaves him with blurry vision and a mouth “dry as cement mix”. As he dresses, he’s overwhelmed with “the vinegary scent of [his] armpits.”
The emphasis on alcohol, blood, and body odour in this scene is representative of both preceding and forthcoming scenes of violence and depravity, not to mention the recurring motif of the ugliness and frailty of the human body. Brandon’s blurry vision is also symbolic of his extremely poor judgement.
All in all, I’d say page 69 provides a brief but powerful taste of what Poison Shy is all about, like a drop of hot sauce on the tongue when your glass of water is empty and your tap isn’t working.