Friday, April 20, 2012

"How to Eat a Cupcake"

Meg Donohue has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughters, dog, and a weakness for salted caramel cupcakes.

She applied the Page 69 Test to How to Eat a Cupcake, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of How to Eat a Cupcake finds Annie walking through the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. For only the second time in a decade, she's headed back to the St. Clair's enormous home--the home where she grew up as the daughter of Lucia, the St. Clair's nanny and cook. She has a complicated, difficult relationship with this neighborhood, and with the St. Clair's daughter, Julia.
Mom had loved living on this block. The views, the magnificent homes, the well-dressed neighbors, the suburb-within-a-city feel never lost their luster for her. Everything remained new and sparkly and surreal for her, but as I grew older, I began to realize just how much was lost in translation. Where Mom saw glamour and beauty, goodwill and gaiety, I saw bulimic fourteen-year-olds and a perilous social ladder littered with casualties and boys who already behaved as if they owned, had somehow earned, the world.
The descriptions on this page are a good representation of how I tried to make San Francisco come alive in the novel. I thought of the city almost more as another character than as a backdrop, and I think page 69 shows that. However, there's no dialogue on this page, which is rare for the book, and it has a slower, more ruminative quality than much of the novel. Also, there's no humor on this page! Especially for a chapter in Annie's voice, which is sharp-tongued and sarcastic, this is an anomaly. Still, you do get a strong sense of place, a hint of suspense, and a developing understanding of the relationships between these characters and how they changed over time.
Learn more about the book and author at Meg Donohue's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue