Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Whole World"

Emily Winslow is an American author living in Cambridge, England. The Whole World, her debut novel, is set in Cambridge, and is about a missing graduate student and what happens between those left behind. The Richmond Times-Dispatch says, "The Whole World shines as a potent look at the self-absorption and angst of youth and the regrets and doubts of middle age..."

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Whole World and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Whole World is the beginning of one of my favorite sections, a flashback that explains the strange behavior of the protagonist from the beginning of the book.

In fact, there’s a lot of flashback in The Whole World. Yes, there’s a lot going on in the present too. But previous events affect the perception and decisions of my characters to the point that the flashbacks are, in a way, participants in the present scenes. These memories don’t come up because I, the author, think it’s a good time to tell you, the reader, something from the past. They come up because at that moment there are things in that character’s immediate present forcing them to relive those old moments. Those old moments assert themselves in ways that make the characters remembering them squirm.

I think if a reader opened up to page 69 they’d be a bit misled, because this flashback is set in New Hampshire, while the present action of the book is set in Cambridge, England. The Cambridge is setting is so important that I consider it nearly a character.

“Jeremy and I became careful. We didn’t do anything for weeks. I stayed in most evenings too, to show Dad. The condoms were gone and I didn’t buy new ones; I didn’t want the pharmacist or one of the supermarket cashiers to maybe tell him something and set him off.”

What happens next explains a lot…but there’s always more to discover. The Whole World is told by five narrators, all of whom have their own pasts to wrestle with.
Read an excerpt from The Whole World, and learn about the book and author at Emily Winslow's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue