Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Kind of Blue"

Miles Corwin, a former crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, is the author of three nonfiction books: The Killing Season, a national bestseller; And Still We Rise, the winner of the PEN West award for nonfiction and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; and Homicide Special, a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Kind of Blue, his first novel, and reported the following:
This is how page 69 begins:
A cold, rosy dawn in southern Lebanon. I’m part of a three-man patrol hidden behind a boulder on a rocky promontory. Three Hezbollah guerrillas wearing flowing keffiyehs, aiming Kalashnikovs, pop up on a ridge behind us. A fourth guerrilla is about to pull the plug on a grenade. I swing around, I aim my Gallil at him, but the assault rifle jams. The two other soldiers shout to me: “Esh!” Shoot. But the gun is still jammed. “Esh! Esh! Esh!”

Ring! Ring! Ring! I jumped out of bed and reached for my phone. “Hello,” I said groggily.

“Are you naked?” someone asked in a falsetto voice.

“Who is this?”

I recognized the voice. It was Sergeant Walker of the Harbor Division buy team.

“We just rounded up a passel of ho’s, in addition to some crackheads, junkies, and street-corner dealers. A couple might have something for you.”

“I’m on my way,” I said.
This gives the reader a good sense of the book and the protagonist. As you can tell from the dream, Ash served in a paratrooper unit of the Israel Defense Forces, and he’s still plagued by nightmares and flashbacks.

I think the dialogue also is representative of the book.

When I was a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and when I researched two nonfiction books about LAPD homicide detectives, I paid close attention to the way cops talked. I tried to write realistic dialogue in Kind of Blue. Most homicide detectives joke around a lot. This is a coping mechanism. If they don’t have a sense of humor, I discovered, they burn out quickly and don’t last long in homicide.
Visit Miles Corwin's website.

Writers Read: Miles Corwin.

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

--Marshal Zeringue