Thursday, April 4, 2013

"The Gods of Heavenly Punishment"

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two daughters.

Epstein applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Apparently everyone else was thinking along the same lines, because the silence was followed by a deafening outcry. It seemed to Cam that every man on the vast ship roared his approval, though Midge was rendered uncharacteristically speechless. He stared down at the deck from his seat as though he’d been woken up from a nap there. Then he slapped his forehead with his flight cap.

“I’ll be damned,” he’d shouted down to Cam. “Tokyo. Well, we’re in for it now.”

His heavily stubbled face wore a grin, and Cam found his own (nearly hairless, as always) face doing the same. The plan’s audacity shocked him, but it also sparked a giddy exhalation of relief, because finally, they were doing something. The treachery of Oahu would have an answer. The wasteland to which they’d all tuned in that first bright Sunday of last December would be avenged. And that was something that made it all worth it, because the most frightening thing about the Jap attack had been how powerless it had made him feel. It was a little bit like the stutter he’d struggled with for the first eighteen years of his life. Or being forced to fight in the dark. Or like having a gunnysack yanked over your head, and your arms and legs tied down, and having to just sit there, waiting for the next blow.

But they weren’t sitting any longer. Tokyo, watch the hell out, Cam thought, on that sunny April 2nd. He’d tossed his pilot’s cap into the bolt-blue sky, and even clapped arms with a nearby bellbottom, something he hadn’t done since boarding since most of the Navy men seemed to see the AAFers as about as useful and appealing as drowned rats.
Is this page representative of the novel? From a literal standpoint it’s hard to say—the novel actually is told from the perspectives of six different characters (on either side of the Pacific conflict) and in settings that range from peacetime New York State to fire-bombarded Tokyo to a 1960’s art exhibit in L.A. So I’d say it’s representative of one aspect of the book—which is war-time exuberance and the need for vengeance and na├»ve heroism. On a more general level I’d say it is representative, in that—like the novel in general—it delves into the churning thoughts and emotions of a person placed in an extreme, dangerous and life-changing moment in their lives and—oftentimes—in world history. As such, I’d certainly hope it would be a motivating page to land on for a perspective reader—that they’d want to read on to see what happens to Cam on this insane mission he’s embarking on, and what consequently happens to the other lives that mission ends up touching.
Learn more about the novel and author at Jennifer Cody Epstein's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Painter from Shanghai.

--Marshal Zeringue