Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Sima's Undergarments for Women"

Ilana Stanger-Ross grew up in Brooklyn. She holds an undergraduate degree from Barnard College and an MFA from Temple University. She is currently a student midwife on the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine. She has received several prizes for her fiction, including a Timothy Findley Fellowship, and her work has been published in Bellevue Literary Review, Lilith magazine, The Globe and Mail, and The Walrus magazine, among others.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Sima’s Undergarments for Women, her first novel, and reported the following:
This page 69 business is brilliant. I opened Sima's Undergarments for Women to the assigned spot and read:
… father at the kitchen table while she opened drawers and overturned sofa pillows, searching for her mother’s treasures. Her father wrung his hands, agitated, as he lamented that he’d never thought to ask where she hid her jewelry—the cheap gold, imitation diamond trinkets he’d bought her during their decades together. Sima found them finally in a tallis bag at the back of her mother’s closet, hidden behind a pair of violet heels.

Curled against the costume jewelry was a worn envelope containing two thousand dollars cash.

“I knew she put away what she could, now and then,” her father said, “but I never knew she’d saved much.” He lifted the bills, his hands as gentle as if it were his wife’s own weight he held, and, cradling them, looked at Sima.

….. Her father took her hand, placed the money in her palm. “This money belonged to her; she’d want it to be yours.”

Sima closed her hand around the soft bills.
It's the writer's job to ensure that every page is essential, but this one seems especially important. When Sima takes that money – for the first time, she feels that her mother, who she has just buried, really did love her.

Later in the novel, she's not so sure. But that money helps her to start her business: the Sima's Undergarments for Women of the title.

Page 69. Who knew?
Read an excerpt from Sima's Undergarments for Women, and learn more about the book and author at Ilana Stanger-Ross' website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue