Waldman applied the Page 69 Test to The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., her first novel, and reported the following:
The idea is that page 69 gives a sense of what a book is like, right? I have to say I think my book is either an exception or—equally possible—I have a distorted sense of what my book is like.Learn more about the book and author at Adelle Waldman's website.
To me it seems that page 69 of my book is more descriptive and lyrical than the book is generally. Which isn’t to say that page 69 is very lyrical (it isn’t). But my tone tends to be pretty jokey and wry, even though the book is also, I think, sympathetic to the characters. I don’t tend to do many descriptions of nature or scenery, and I don’t use many metaphors, unless they are intended to be comic, like this one, “Bad service was a source of great frustration for her, an irritant that might at any moment set her off, like science was for the medieval church.” (That’s from page 80.)
On page 69, my main character is on a date that is going well—he is beginning to feel something earnest and sincere. That’s perhaps why the tone is a little different. I didn’t want to undermine the romantic tension. The page even contains a description of scenery: “Nate turned to take in the Manhattan skyline behind them. The chains of white lights lining the cables of the other East River bridges were like dangling necklaces beneath the other brightly lit towers, a fireworks display frozen at its most expansive moment.”
But the next line is probably more typical of the book’s tone: “The view, familiar and yet still—always—thrilling, in combination with the plastic smell of the taxi, made him feel almost giddy. He had a sort of Pavlovian reaction to cabs. He rarely took them except on his way to bed with a new girl.”
From Page 69:“I want to see your book collection,” he said instead.
“I’m taking that as a yes.”
The cab he hailed seemed to move like a bumper car on the shimmering street, spewing water as it slid to a halt about twenty feet in front of them. They ran toward it, laughing drunkenly as they scrambled into the backseat. The small, balding driver grumbled when they told him they were going to Brooklyn and, speaking fiercely into his cell phone in a South Asian language, banged a fist against his doily-covered steering wheel. This also struck them as extremely funny.
Crossing the bridge, Nate turned to take in the Manhattan skyline behind them. The chains of white lights lining the cables of the other East River bridges were like dangling necklaces beneath the brightly lit towers, a fireworks display frozen at its most expansive moment. The view, familiar and yet still—always—thrilling, in combination with the plastic smell of the taxi, made him feel almost giddy. He had sort of a Pavlovian reaction to cabs. He rarely took them except on his way to bed with a new girl.
Hannah’s apartment was right off Myrtle, on the second floor of a walk-up building. She circled the edges, switching on a succession of small lamps. The space lit up only gradually, as she got to the third or fourth one. The wood floors were scuffed, but the walls were a very clean, stark white with original moldings at the top and very few pictures on them. One wall was lined with bookshelves. On the other side, a half-wall separated the kitchen from the living area. The room seemed unusually spacious for New York, in part because it had relatively little furniture. There was, Nate noticed, no couch. No television, either.
She gestured for Nate to sit near the window where two mismatched, upholstered chairs sat on either side of a small, triangular table. On the windowsill sat an ashtray.