Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"The Suicide Collectors"

David Oppegaard holds a B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College and an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Suicide Collectors, his first published novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Suicide Collectors begins with Norman, the book’s protagonist, and his traveling companions, Pops and Zero, hiding from a motorcycle gang that has swooped in to surprise them at a Kansas rest stop. Humanity has been decimated by a plague of suicide called the Despair for five years, and there are no longer laws, much less a police force to enforce those laws. Eventually, the bikers leave, unable to spot their prey hiding in the truck stop’s woods:

After a few long minutes of shouting the bikers started circling the parking lot again. The bikers gunner their engines and took off. Norman breathed deeply as the gang roared into the distance, most likely rocketing west again down Interstate 70. He pushed himself off the ground and helped Pops to his feet. Zero joined them.

“They’re searching for you guys, aren’t they?”

“Probably,” Norman said.

“So what should we do?”

“Hope like hell they don’t find us.”

Pops nodded. “I concur.”

Page 69 shows the multiple layers of tension that pervade The Suicide Collectors. You see our small band of characters hunted, and hiding, as well as the wild desperation that pervades the entire book. Ninety percent of humanity has already taken its own life, and the Last Ten Percent struggle on, hunted not only by each other, but by the loneliness and grief that follows them like a dark cloud. The reader keeps turning the page not only to see what will happen, but how the characters will summon the will to continue.

That night a series of plaintive, high-pitched howls sounded in the distance as they camped out in the truck. Zero sprawled out in the truck’s cab, deeply asleep, while Pops and Norman tossed and turned in the truck’s bed.
Read more about The Suicide Collectors at the publisher's website and at David Oppegaard's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue