Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"By Blood"

Ellen Ullman is the author of a novel, The Bug, a New York Times Notable Book and runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the cult classic memoir Close to the Machine, based on her years as a rare female computer programmer in the early years of the personal computer era.

Ullman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, By Blood, and reported the following:
I don't think that page 69 represents the book; nor that a reader, starting here, would be happy to go on. There are too many antecedents for that one page to make much sense.

Now, in defense of page 1 from the test of page 69:

By Blood breaks page at the end of every short, numbered "scene." This results in a good deal of white space. So the first point in my defense is to say: My page 69 is not really page 69!

In further evidence of my case, I'll mention two sentences on page 10, where the narrator defends his decision to keep eavesdropping because he can't possibly understand what he's overhearing:
But it all meant nothing to me. I was like a person who had happened upon a novel opened at random.
Read more about By Blood at the Farrar, Straus and Giroux website.

--Marshal Zeringue