Friday, June 22, 2007

"Five Skies"

Ron Carlson has received citations in Best American Short Stories twelve times since 1984. His books include the story collections Plan B for the Middle Class and The News of the World, and the novels Betrayed by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Truants.

He applied the "page 69 test" to his new novel, Five Skies, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Five Skies has only a few lines on it, being a chapter ending,but one of them has the foreman of the ranch speaking about Ronnie Panelli,the 19 year old former thief, who has just welded some machinery supports,and he says: "It's a smart cookie." One of the real solid pleasures of this book was writing Ronnie Panelli's reluctant apprenticeship to the world of work, the nomenclature of tools and the elements of construction.

When first confronted with his task of assembling the tent which will be the three men's summer shelter, he was vexed, but then when he had completed the job and walked away admiring the edifice, his pride gave me one of the largest clues I would use going forward. In the pages just before 69, he's welding for the first time, and he gets it. In many ways, this smart cookie is the center of the book.
Learn more about Five Skies at the publisher's website and listen to an audio excerpt. Read or listen to an excerpt at the NPR website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue