Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Beginner's Greek"

James Collins writes for The New Yorker and has been an editor at both Time and Spy magazines.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel Beginner's Greek, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Beginner's Greek opens with what is by far the crudest image in the whole book, although I like to think that it is crude in a sort of sophisticated way! The hero's best friend, Jonathan, has been recounting his sexual exploits and finishes up at the top of p. 69 with this comment about a particular young woman: "Catholic girls. Jesus. There's nothing like seeing the crucifix bouncing around their collarbone. Sometimes she clenches it in her teeth." This passage would no doubt disgust many people and they would put the book down (or throw it across the room) without reading another word. Still, for others, the passage might prove to be an enticement. The problem is that the very next paragraph would disappoint them. There the hero, Peter, muses about how the things Jonathan is saying disgusts him, and you get the definite idea that the line suggested at the beginning of the page is not going to be pursued. So -- it seems to me that if you gave people only p. 69 to read and then you eliminated the ones who were repelled by the first few lines and those who were let down by what follows, there would be nobody left. I am not going to suggest to the publishers that they use p. 69 to increase sales.
Read an excerpt from Beginner's Greek and learn more about the novel at the publisher's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue