Sunday, March 18, 2007

"On the Wrong Track"

Steve Hockensmith applied the "page 69 test" to his new novel, On the Wrong Track, and reported the following:
Page 69 of On the Wrong Track is the first page of the tenth chapter, which I think gives me a nice little edge on your test. You see, I name all my chapters, and the name of chapter 10 -- “Black Curtains” -- hopefully has an intriguingly sinister ring to it.

The first two paragraphs aren’t exactly action packed: They describe porters on a passenger train turning down beds for the night. But the scene is set, and in paragraphs three and four you get to the meat of the book. Literally, in a (sick) way.

Word quickly spread that porters had deposited the baggageman’s body [in the baggage car] ... stuffed in a stewpot from the dining-car kitchen.

Oh, that’s bunk, I almost replied upon hearing this from Horner, who relayed it with the eyebrow-waggling leer men usually reserve for off-color jokes. The body was banged up, sure, but you couldn’t squeeze it into no pot. You’d need at least a washtub.

So by the time you’re (I hope) sucked along to page 70, you’ve learned that (A) the book takes place on a passenger train, (B) a member of the crew is murdered in a pretty messy manner and (C) the narrator’s a folksy guy with a (sometimes twisted) sense of humor.

Is that enough to convince someone to whip out their wallet? I sure hope so. If not, I’d tell them to check out page 166 -- that one really rocks!
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--Marshal Zeringue