Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Hold Love Strong"

Matthew Aaron Goodman earned a B.A. degree in literature from Brandeis University and an MFA from Emerson College. He has been a student of writing at the 92nd Street Y, Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, and the Vermont Studio Center, and has taught and worked in inner-city communities for years. Working hand-in-hand with formerly incarcerated men and women, he created The Leadership Alliance, a community empowerment project that unites community leaders and volunteer partners. Currently, he leads a literacy program for exalt, a nonprofit organization that assists youth on the spectrum of criminal justice involvement.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his new novel, Hold Love Strong, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Hold Love Strong occurs on a balmy summer night in a plastic kid pool on the roof of the Ever Park Housing Projects where Abraham (the narrator of the story), his cousin Donnel, his mother, and his grandmother have found refuge from their hot apartment. Abraham’s grandma has been out of work for months, and the crack epidemic is just beginning to take hold of Ever Park, and of Abraham and his family’s life. I hope the page demonstrates a development in Abraham’s perspective and in the relationships of the Singleton family members, both with themselves and with each other. But what I most wanted to affirm in this scene is the relief and fortification the Singleton family finds in each other despite the events and conditions of Ever Park. There are a lot of factors pushing and pulling on Abraham’s life. So I thought it was tremendously important to establish the strength of his roots.

We squatted and sat down in the water and our legs touched in the middle of the pool. The kid pool was the first pool I’d ever been in that wasn’t packed with people on a hot summer day, brimming with children splashing and peeing and seeing who could hold their breaths longer; with teenagers ogling and wrestling each other; with mothers holding infants. I was conditioned to be one of the many, to be of the masses; to be crammed in and to call such conditions relief; to know crowds as home. My mother, grandma, and Donnel whispered and cursed Ever, how strange it was that when the heat was broken the elevator ran smoothly. Donnel talked like an adult, like he was husband and they were his wives. He could do that. He had an ability to speak in the manner and on the terms of those he was with. I half listened and looked up at the sky, watched the lights of airplanes blink through the blackness, wondering who went where.
Read an excerpt from Hold Love Strong, and learn more about the book and author at Matthew Aaron Goodman's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue