Sunday, March 13, 2011


Sophie Littlefield's crime novels include A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Aftertime, the first installment in her new dystopian series, and reported the following:
By this point in the book, main character Cass Dollar has woken up in a field, filthy and dressed in unfamiliar clothes, with half her hair pulled out and the flesh torn from her back, evidence she’s been attacked by a cannibalistic Beater. She makes her way to a shelter where citizens make do with few resources, and a communal bath in a trough of creek water is the best anyone can do for washing. The women at the bath show Cass the kindness of including her without comment on her appearance, even though Cass is embarrassed by the dirt she leaves in the water.

Nance made a show of pretending to look into the trough. “Can’t even tell,” she said. “We’ll be able to wash all the kids and a few stray dogs in here, too.”

I included this scene to show two things: first of all, a hunger for community is unquenchable, even in the direst circumstances, and friendships are possible even when everything is gone. And second, assaults on our dignity that would devastate us in the world we know – like sharing dirty bath water – become meaningless when necessity dictates that we make do.

I was remembering a visit to a loved one in a nursing home when I wrote that scene. Conventions of dignity are lost in the interest of helping the frail in as efficient a manner as possible. And yet humanity prevails, and the best caregivers talk and encourage and share laughter even as they provide care for the failing. I like to think that, no matter what we our faced with, our essential natures prevail.
Read an excerpt from Aftertime, and learn more about the book and author at Sophie Littlefield's website and blog.

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

--Marshal Zeringue