Saturday, November 6, 2010

"The Neighbors Are Watching"

Debra Ginsberg is the author of the novels Blind Submission and The Grift, as well as three memoirs: Waiting, Raising Blaze, and About My Sisters.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Neighbors Are Watching, and reported the following:
The question at the heart of this novel is whether or not there can ever be an objective reality--a quandary I've explored in some form or other in every one of my books. Here, all the neighbors on the fictional Fuller Court cul-de-sac watch and judge each other constantly, despite the fact that each one of them has plenty to hide. The novel is told from multiple points of view and it is up to the reader to figure out whose perspective, if any, is the true one--or if a true perspective exists at all. In this sense, page 69 is both representative of the novel as a whole and not at all. The scene takes place at Fuller Court's annual block party, the only time all of these watchful neighbors are together as a group instead of peering through each other's doorways and windows. Because this is such a singular event, I decided to write the scene with no point of view. For these few pages, the reader becomes a purely objective observer of the calm (albeit a tense one) before the firestorm.

From page 69:
Sam was wearing a festive skirt; long, full and decorated with bright yellow and orange geometric patterns which contrasted nicely with the turquoise necklace and bracelet she'd designed and created. The skirt and jewelry were set off by a plain white t-shirt which was simple but of good quality and which flattered Sam's olive skin and slim figure.

Gloria wasn't as dressed up as Sam but had traded her usual yoga pants for a pair of painted on jeans and a purple halter top. Her short gold hair was still damp from the shower. Sunlight bounced off the large silver hoops in her ears and her breasts swayed slightly against the thin fabric of her top. Dick turned his head as she passed him, his eyes quickly taking a full inventory of her hips and thighs.

"That looks good," Sam said, pointing at Dorothy's chicken salad.

"Please try some," Dorothy said. "I made it with these special olives I got down at--you know, that store? I'm totally drawing a blank right now! But help yourself."

"I made a fruit salad," Sam said. "It's kind of my take on Ambrosia, but without all the things that are bad for you."

Dorothy tipped her head, smiling politely. "Oh?"

Dick scraped the grill. Flames rose up and slapped on another patty.

"Don't worry, Dick, we also brought beer," Gloria said and put the two six-packs of Dos XX she'd been carrying on the table. "Good beer," she said.

Dick turned to her, grinning.

"Great," he said. "Burgers are just about there. Time to grab some buns." His eyes flickered quickly to her ass and then back up to his grill.

Gloria rolled her eyes and Sam reached out with her hand, grabbed hold of Gloria's arm and squeezed lightly. Gloria understood and patted Sam on the back. Don't worry about it, I'm fine.

"Okay if I just leave it here for now?" Sam said, placing her fruit salad on the table.

"Sure, of course," Dorothy said, brightness lifting her words. "Oh, look, there's Joe!" She smiled, quickly rubbing a finger across her teeth in case there was any smeared lipstick there.
Read an excerpt from The Neighbors Are Watching and view the trailer; learn more about the book and author at Debra Ginsberg's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue