Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Nose Down, Eyes Up"

Merrill Markoe is the author of three books of humorous essays and the novels It’s My F---ing Birthday, What the Dogs Have Taught Me, and Walking in Circles Before Lying Down. She has also co-authored, with Andy Prieboy, the novel The Psycho Ex Game. And she has won multiple Emmy awards.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Nose Down, Eyes Up, and reported the following:
Once I finish writing a book, and it is published, I am sometimes afraid to open it for fear that I will see things that still need rewriting because now it's too late. I might panic or get depressed.

So it was with some trepidation that I turned to Page 69 in Nose Down, Eyes Up. I was kind of relieved to discover that, because it’s the first page of Chapter 6, it was only a half page long.

The book is written in the first person voice of Gil, a handyman who, at 47, thinks of himself as the world’s oldest 22 year old man. Gil is the house sitter and care-taker of big estate for a living. As the chapter begins, he has just been evicted temporarily so the people who own the place can take an extended vacation.

I spent the time packing everything I had at the Bremner house into two large suitcases and a couple of rucksacks. There were also eight sad medium size cardboard boxes which I pushed together onto a shelf at the back of the Bremners garage. Eight boxes full of what looked like the unsold items from a weird yard sale: ratty towels, deflated footballs, old Mad Magazines. Cuff links my mother had given me. When did she imagine I wore those kinds of shirts? Seemed like those eight boxes had followed me everywhere. Every move I made in my life looked like this.

By reading the page, I think you get a sense of the narrator as a guy who has lived his life wary of commitment to anything. A lot of the plot revolves around that. But you would be given no clue about the largest part of what drives the humor in the book: That there are a lot of talking dogs. Gil has four dogs with whom he is so involved that he has full blown conversations with them. The alpha dog, Jimmy, is kind of Tony Robbins figure to the others in that he gives them tips about increasing their personal power through manipulative techniques. A few pages later, Jimmy will be shocked to learn that he was adopted and Gil is not his real father. This propels a series of events that cause Gil to get re-involved with his ex-wife. Many complications ensue. So, by only reading page 69 you would get a very inadequate view of the landscape of the book. Though it might save you some money if you were looking for an excuse not to buy it.
Learn more about the book and author at Merrill Markoe's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Merrill Markoe & Jimmy, Ginger, Puppyboy, and Hedda.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue