Monday, September 10, 2012

"The Map of Lost Memories"

Born in Seattle and raised throughout Washington State, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former independent bookseller, she is the author of the historical novel The Map of Lost Memories and Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States.

Fay applied the Page 69 Test to The Map of Lost Memories and reported the following:
Oh, what a difference two pages can make. If this was the page 71 test, it would need a “spoiler alert.” In fact, I doubt I’d be writing this post, since the unexpected action on page 71 is essential to catapulting the book forward. As for page 69, it reveals how the intricacies of the plot rely on unraveling information and the power of deduction, as the main character Irene Blum confronts Communist revolutionary Roger Merlin, who is trying to prevent his wife Simone from joining Irene on an expedition in search of a lost Cambodian treasure.

It’s fascinating to me to hone in on a single page after so many years of examining and analyzing the book as a whole. Not mentioned on this page is the setting (1920s Shanghai) or even the main storyline (finding the ancient treasure), and still I feel that it captures the essence of the book’s many-layered storyline. Roger killed what baby? What was Simone’s involvement in arms shipments? What harm is she capable of? And who is Voitinsky? The funny thing is, these elements are not primary influences on the plot, but they are examples of details that are crucial to the development of the characters and their involvement with one another.

Of course I hope that every page in the book has something unique and captivating to offer, and that page 69 in particular encourages readers to pick up my novel, take it home and immerse themselves in Irene’s journey.
It was as if [Irene] had reached a clearing within the dense forest of her thoughts, an uncluttered expanse in which the lies simply waited for their turn to be told. “A good friend of mine, Marc Rafferty. Do you know him? An information man.”

Roger’s expression was taut. “The best. Works for Henry Simms. Of course, yes, of course. The Brooke Museum. Simms. You would know Rafferty.”

Irene said, “Your stunt on the ship to Shanghai was noted, and not favorably. Trying to throw your wife overboard. You’re irrational. Everyone knows you killed the baby.”

Roger glared at Simone.

“Irene,” Simone said, faltering, “what are you—?”

“She didn’t tell me,” Irene said. “She didn’t have to.”

“So Voitinsky is talking about me.”

“He’s worried about you, about both of you. Worried about what you might drive Simone to do. What revenge she might take. She could do quite a bit of harm, considering her involvement with Borodin’s arms shipments.” Irene drew on her cigarette. Her hand was no longer trembling.

Roger appeared to be mulling what she was telling him. Perhaps these were not lies. Perhaps—inadvertently, instinctively—she had honed in on the truth. “But what if you send her away?”

“Why would I do that?”

“You could send her home to rest for a while. To recuperate. In the company of bodyguards, whom you will choose and I will pay for. It would be seen as more than a gesture of kindness on your part. It will mean that you put the cause above your personal feelings. This is what concerns Voitinsky the most.”

Roger looked Irene over with disdain. “She won’t come back.”

“I wouldn’t if I were her.”

“You’re smarter than I expected you to be.” Roger began walking toward Irene. “But you’re ignorant at the same time. Do you know how easy it will be for me to check on your story?”

“Be my guest.”

“I do admire your audacity.”
Learn more about the book and author at Kim Fay's website.

--Marshal Zeringue