Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Innocent Monster"

Called a “hard-boiled poet” by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the noir poet laureate in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman has published eleven novels—two under his pen name Tony Spinosa—in three series and Tower, co-authored by award-winning Irish writer Ken Bruen. Coleman is a three-time Shamus Award winner for Best Novel of the Year. He has also won the Barry and Anthony Awards and has been twice nominated for the Edgar Award. He is the co-editor of the poetry journal The Lineup and the edited the anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn.

Coleman applied the Page 69 Test to Innocent Monster, the 6th installment of the acclaimed Moe Prager series, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Innocent Monster is the first page of Chapter Nine and the setting for the action—a New York City art gallery—in this chapter is a microcosm of the milieu in which Moe operates during the novel. At the urging of his estranged daughter Sarah, Moe joins the search for 11 year-old art prodigy Sashi Bluntstone, who has been abducted from her Long Island home. It’s three weeks after Sashi has gone missing and Moe isn’t very hopeful, but it isn’t in his nature to give up, especially when the life of a little girl and reconciliation with his daughter are at stake. However, life at the fringes of the New York art scene isn’t exactly the kind of territory Moe, now in his early sixties, is accustomed to. On p. 69, he comes to the Brill Gallery in Chelsea in order to find out about Nathan Martyr, a once-hot-now-fading artist who has made no secret of his hatred for Sashi Bluntstone and his utter disdain for her work.
The Brill Gallery was less impressive than a brown paper bag and the art inside less interesting. Basically, it was a rectangle of four white walls, a white ceiling with tiny halogen spotlights, a blond hardwood floor, and a few white pedestals for sculpture.

There was a small white table in one corner for brochures and a white desk in the opposite corner. A curveless woman of thirty with heavy-framed black glasses, cropped black hair, and lip, nose, and eyebrow piercings sat at the desk. The best and most colorful art in the place were the tattoos that covered her exposed flesh. Unfortunately, she was as interested in me as I was in the art…

“Excuse me.”

“Yes,” she said, not gazing up.

“Are you the owner of the gallery?”

Still not looking up. “Do I look like the owner?”

“I don’t know. What does the owner look like?”

She raised her eyes, unamused. “Not like me.”
Through the course of the novel, Moe is forced to ask the big questions about the true nature of art and has to deal with the unsavory parasites who don’t make art themselves, but feed off the people who do. This is no place, Moe determines, for a sensitive little girl. By the conclusion of the novel, Moe is left wondering where to draw the line between the innocents and the monsters.
Learn more about Reed Farrel Coleman and his work.

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

--Marshal Zeringue