Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Breathers: A Zombie's Lament"

S.G. Browne worked in Hollywood for several years before moving to Santa Cruz to be a writer. He currently lives and writes in San Francisco.

He applied “Page 69 Test” to his new novel, Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, and reported the following:
Before she left, Rita came over to my cage and asked me if I was okay. I nodded and gave her a thumb up. Then she motioned me forward, leaned up to the bars, and kissed me on the lips.

“I’ll see you soon, Andy,” she said, and then sauntered away like a goddess.

When I smile at that memory, there’s no sense of the mischief my mother saw in my previous smile. But neither Mom nor Dad notice. They’re too busy talking about me in the third person.

I cheated a little bit, as the first half of the first sentence actually appears on Page 68. But I included it for the sake of continuity and context.

At first read, I wasn’t sure this page was representative of Breathers, especially since it’s just a third of a page. What a rip-off. But I think there are some unanswered questions here that add some intrigue:

Why was Andy in a cage?

Where is he now?

How does he know Rita?

Why did he only give her one thumb up instead of two?

Andy was in a cage because he and Rita, two members of the local chapter of Undead Anonymous, both took separate, un-chaperoned walks and ended up running into one another before getting carted off by Animal Control. Andy is in the car with his parents, recalling when Rita said goodbye to him before his mother and father came to pick him up at the SPCA, where all stray zombies are held for three days before they get donated to medical science. And although he still has both thumbs, Andy’s left arm was pulverized in the car accident that killed him, so he has no use of it. Plus his throat was damaged to the point that he’s unable to speak.

While my Page 69 lacks some of the humor and the zombie insights into the human condition which I think give the novel its dark, beating heart, there are certain elements here that are essential to the story – Andy’s burgeoning romance with Rita, his less-than-idyllic relationship with his parents, and the place of zombies in modern day society.

Hopefully that’s enough to compel someone to want to read the previous 68 pages and the rest that follow.
Read Chapter 1 from Breathers, and learn more about the book and author at the Undead Anonymous website and Scott Browne's LiveJournal and MySpace page.

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

--Marshal Zeringue