Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"The Grift"

Debra Ginsberg is the author of the novel Blind Submission, as well as three memoirs: Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World, and About My Sisters.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Grift, and reported the following:
Alas, p. 69 of The Grift is blank (not, I'd hope, representative of the novel as a whole). Page 71, however, is certainly representative of one of this novel's major themes: Southern California's landscape and weather and how it affects the populace, especially my main character, Marina, a fake psychic whose life is turned inside out when she realizes she has been given the real gift of second sight.

Here, Marina, who has recently relocated to North San Diego County in an attempt to flee her past and build a new life, reflects on that spookiest of SoCal phenomena, the Santa Ana winds, and what they might portend for her future.

Marina woke up to the dry howl of a mad wind. The Santa Ana winds, known simply in some circles as el diablo or "the devil," arrived on schedule and with a sly wink in time for Halloween. Twenty-four hours later, it was still swirling around caved-in pumpkins and blowing remnants of bathroom tissue and black crepe towards the ocean. Marina heard her windows rattle and her first thought was that she was going to have a busy day. Her second thought was that it was a good thing, because it was her birthday. Turning thirty-five meant that she had only two years left to reach her goal. which was to have enough money to stop working and do whatever she wanted. She wouldn't call it retirement, a sad word that conjured images of golf clubs and guided tours. What she was after was the opposite of retirement -- a new life. Today, at least, the weather would help.

There were reasons why Marina welcomed this wind that so many hated. When it raced down the mountains and out to the coast, the Santa Anas grew hot and arid, sparking wildfires and setting nerves on edge. People complained of dry skin, flat hair, nosebleeds, and headaches. But it also swept away haze and fog, leaving the landscape so bright that the colors seemed super-saturated and the air sparkled with particles of desert dust blown west. Marina relished the clarity and the way she felt when the wind moved through her body, so dry it made her shiver.
Read an excerpt from The Grift, and learn more about the book and author at Debra Ginsberg's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue