Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Goodbye for Now"

Laurie Frankel was recently named one of ten women to watch in 2012. She is a proud core member of the Seattle7Writers. Her first novel, The Atlas of Love, came out in August 2010.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Goodbye for Now, and reported the following:
Hmm, interesting. In my first book, The Atlas of Love, page 69 was the perfect encapsulation of the whole novel. It was amazing. This one isn’t quite as spot on, but it’s good too in a different way. Goodbye For Now’s page 69 is a turning point. Two, actually. Two things begin on page 69 that change the course of everything going forward.

The first half of page 69 is a warning: NO ONE CAN KNOW.
“You can’t tell your mom,” said Sam.

“I know.”

“You can’t.”

“I know.”

“Seriously, Merde. No one can know.”

“I know.”

It wasn’t out of the realm that Livvie wouldn’t have heard from her daughter in a while—it was entirely in character which was the only reason she had been able to comment on it. Kyle and Julia had cell phones and TV and an internet connection just like everybody else. But unlike everybody else, they ignored all of it for weeks and weeks at a time. Meredith hadn’t seen them in a few months, not since the funeral, but they were coming for Thanksgiving, for the whole weekend in fact, and though Meredith was looking forward to seeing them, she was a little anxious about the four days it meant she had to be out of touch with her grandmother.
Sam, computer genius, has developed some software, an algorithm so that his girlfriend Meredith can video chat with her recently deceased grandmother. In this scene, Meredith’s parents are coming for Thanksgiving. Sam is worried that she won’t be able to keep the software a secret. Sam is worried that she must keep the software a secret. Meredith is worried about being “out of touch” with a dead person. Those concerns, and their fallout, launch pretty much all of the book’s central conflicts and crises.

Then there’s this interaction with Meredith’s parents, Julia and Kyle, when they show up for Thanksgiving later on page 69.
Julia had lost some weight, but otherwise she seemed well. Kyle looked as he always did in “The Big City”—game, glad to see his kid, and oddly out of place somehow. They arrived late Thursday morning bearing island cheeses and yams and pies. Meredith was making soup, turkey, salad, beets, and a valiant attempt at steering the conversation away from what Sam was up to these days. It wasn’t easy.

“So, Sam, what are you up to these days?” Kyle asked genially.

“Don’t ask him that.” Julia swatted Kyle’s butt with a dish towel and then added sotto voce, but not quite sotto enough that Sam missed it, “He’s unemployed.”

Sam was not offended though he could hardly answer the question. “I’ve been running a lot in the mornings. Down along the waterfront. Sometimes in the Arboretum. It’s beautiful out there. I’ve been learning to cook, making a lot of meals. Getting settled in here. Getting caught up. I’ve also been doing some ... projects. For a friend.” He added this last so as to suggest freelance work and the ability to financially support Kyle’s daughter—who shot him a warning glance—but he worried her parents might have follow-up questions he couldn’t answer.
Meredith’s parents are worried about why Sam lost his job. (It’s because of the secret software they can’t know about.) They’re worried about what he’ll do next. (He’ll work more on the secret software they can’t know about.) This scene is about gaps in communication that spring up even among the living...never mind the ones that happen among the dead. And again, the seeds that get planted here between Sam, Meredith, Julia, and Kyle bear weighty fruit throughout the rest of the book.

Cool, no? This page 69 test always takes my breath away.
Learn more about the book and author at Laurie Frankel's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Laurie Frankel and Calli.

My Book, The Movie: Goodbye for Now.

--Marshal Zeringue