Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Game of Secrets"

Dawn Tripp graduated from Harvard and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. She is the author of the novels Moon Tide and The Season of Open Water, which won the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Game of Secrets, and reported the following:
When I first flipped to page 69, I thought: Ah no. Not really representative of the book.

Game of Secrets is a mystery, framed through a Scrabble game. I love Scrabble. Always have. How we play that game reveals so much about how we tick. And the Scrabble game for me became the perfect lens for a novel about two families bound together and divided by unspeakable secrets—a brutal past, a murder, a love story. The novel is a mosaic narrative, fractured in time and point of view, the story unfolds as the game is played, clues laid down, pieces coming together, falling into place.

On p. 69, we find Marne, 35, the grand-daughter of the dead man, Luce Weld, whose skull rolled out a pile of fill fifty years before with a bullet hole in it. According to small-town rumor, Luce was murdered by the husband of his lover, Ada Varick. But on p. 69, Marne is not thinking about the murder, or the lore wrapped around it; she’s not thinking about curious friendship between her mother Jane and Ada, the weekly Friday Scrabble game they still meet to play that Marne does not, cannot, will not understand. What I love about p. 69 is that it is all edge. True Marne, film-school drop-out turned waitress, still obsessed by the work of Sven Nykvist and Jean Cocteau. It’s 3 a.m. and the neat little walls she keeps have begun to break down. She is haunted by a childhood memory of her mother that she can’t quite find a shelf for—and she is starting to fall for Ada’s youngest son, Ray, who in typical small-town tangle, is also her brother’s best friend and the guy she’s almost loved since she was twelve:
Trying not to feel, not to think—Wanting, trying not to want, too much.

Yesterday lunchtime, my brother stopped in for coffee and a ham sandwich and, as he was leaving, threw a cool look at me, and said, “I hear you got plans for Thursday night.” Like we were still teenagers, me horning in on his crowd.

I retorted something to that effect.

He just kind of glared. “Do me one great favor, Marne, and don’t fuck everything up.”

Light, Nykvist wrote...

... hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling

It can all come down on you like this. Can’t it?

Learn more about the book and author at Dawn Tripp's website.

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

--Marshal Zeringue