Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Blind Man’s Alley"

Justin Peacock is the author of the novels A Cure for Night and the recently released Blind Man's Alley. He received an MFA from Columbia and a law degree from Yale.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Blind Man's Alley and reported the following:
Although Blind Man’s Alley is set in the recent past – the summer of 2008 – in some ways the book is intended as a work of historical fiction, capturing a recent moment that already feels long distant. Page 69 illustrates this.

The scene that is unfolding on that page takes place at a private event being thrown by an elite law firm for summer associates (law students who are spending the summer with the firm before deciding whether to join it upon graduation) at the Rainbow Room, at the time an exclusive and expensive Manhattan restaurant, more famous for its views (a classic of art deco design, the restaurant opened back in 1934 and occupied the sixty-fifth floor of a Midtown skyscraper) than its food. Such fancy events were a ubiquitous part of law firm recruiting before the financial crises hit; now, after waves of layoffs, young lawyers cling to whatever job they can get. Similarly, the Rainbow Room, the sort of ornate establishment whose success was predicated on tourists and corporate events, has recently closed its doors, another victim of the Great Recession. I chose it as the location of this scene precisely because it crystallized the gilded aspects of New York City that have recently taken a severe battering.

The novel’s protagonist, Duncan Riley, is a senior associate at the law firm in question, obligated to attend such events because his upcoming partnership vote requires establishing his bona fides as a team player. Duncan, to his great surprise, has just found himself taking on a murder case pro bono, and on page 69 he is buttonholed by a junior associate who would love to escape the tedious grind of corporate litigation and is intrigued by the murder. Duncan, who is not quite as cynical as he thinks he is, has more than put in his own dues in the corporate trenches and is therefore possessive of the murder case, which he hopes will provide him with the opportunity to actually help someone.

In terms of the main plot of the book, page 69 reveals little, if anything. In turns of the themes of the book and the world it depicts – high-end Manhattan, just before the long fall – page 69 is a perfect example.
Read an excerpt from Blind Man’s Alley, and learn more about the book and author at Justin Peacock's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Cure for Night.

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

--Marshal Zeringue