Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Not Quite Dead"

John MacLachlan Gray is a writer-composer-performer for the stage, film, television, radio and print. He is well-known for his stage musicals, including the successful Billy Bishop Goes to War, and for his satirical videos on CBC-TV’s The Journal. Gray is the recipient of many awards — a Golden Globe, the Governor General’s Medal and the Order of Canada.

His most recent book is Not Quite Dead, to which he applied the Page 69 Test and reported the following:
Page 69 of Not Quite Dead sits precisely between two major scenes.

I can't reveal the previous scene because to do so would be a bit of a spoiler.

The scene to follow contains a discussion between Chivers and a bartender over the latter's infected thumb. The bartender is German, a reminder that, in America in 1849, other than the Indians, hardly anybody was "from" America. Meanwhile in story terms, Dr. Chivers finds out things that confirm his worst fears about the mess Poe has got him into.

Such scenes-between-scenes are valuable as an opportunity to take the character and the reader back to the base situation, to pull the pieces together before blowing them apart again.

Everything has something to do with the base situation, either in fact or in theme or in atmosphere. The page is too precious to waste on the writer's own thoughts and opinions.

That's about all I can say about Page 69.
Read an excerpt from Not Quite Dead, and learn more about the author and his work at John MacLachlan Gray's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue