Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"This One Is Mine"

Maria Semple has written for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen.

She applied the Page 69 Test to This One Is Mine, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my novel, This One Is Mine, Sally, an ex-ballerina is in a shoe store with her boyfriend, Jeremy, trying to figure out how to get him to propose. Trouble is, he hasn't even said "I love you." By her logic, that would come before a proposal. On page 69, the words "I love you" squirt out of her mouth. To which Jeremy responds, "Me, too." Sally feels a surge of joy and triumph. For that moment, life seems manageable.

Even though Sally is a secondary character, she carries the "message" of the book. (Forgive the M-word, I've only got 200 words.) Her entire existence is bound by self-will. Before I stumbled upon the poem "This One Is Mine" by the Sufi Hafiz, my working title came from Sally. It's at the end of the novel, at which point she's willed Jeremy into marriage-- to disastrous results-- and finally relinquishes her fanatical need to control.

"I wake up and I say..." She raised her eyes, as if talking to God.

"Surprise me."

SURPRISE ME-- to me, it's the most evolved state there is. Enthusiastic and unattached. And on p. 69, Sally, like most of my other characters in the beginning of the book, has a long way to go to get there.
Read an excerpt from This One Is Mine.

Learn more about the book and author at Maria Semple's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue