Sunday, November 15, 2009

"A Friend of the Family"

Lauren Grodstein is the author of the collection The Best of Animals and a novel, Reproduction is the Flaw of Love, which was both a Breakout Book selection from and a Borders Original Voices pick. Her work has been translated into German, Italian, and French. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Friend of the Family, and reported the following:
Page 69 of A Friend of the Family is actually a great page to read if you want to get a sense of the book as a whole. It takes place at a pivotal New Year’s Day party, when all six of the novel’s main characters are in the same house, and all of them interact with one another; I’m fairly certain this is the only time this set of circumstances happens throughout the book. The general situation is this: our narrator, Pete Dizinoff, his wife, Elaine, and their son, Alec, are celebrating the first day of 2006 at the annual new year’s party thrown by their dearest friends, Joe and Iris Stern. Laura Stern, Joe and Iris’s daughter, is ten years older than Alec. She’s just returned to her parents’ house after a decade of travel and emotional recovery following her prosecution for a heinous crime she committed when she was in high school. Alec Dizinoff, Pete’s son, hasn’t set eyes on Laura Stern since he was a third-grader. Now, at this party, he sees her and…

But that’s for page 74. On page 69, Pete reflects on his college crush on Iris Stern, Laura’s mother. It’s a crush he’s never really relinquished, and it helps fuel his desperation to keep his son away from Iris’s daughter.
At Pitt, after I’d introduced them, Iris would often shake her head at me and ask me how I’d let her get talked into this, this” meaning a long-standing love affair with Joe Stern.

“You should ask him,” I’d say, because I never had the courage to say, Well, Iris, because you wouldn’t have me.
Read an excerpt from A Friend of the Family, and learn more about the book and author at Lauren Grodstein’s website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue