Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Prosperous Friends"

Christine Schutt is the author of two short story collections and two novels, Florida (National Book Award finalist) and All Souls (Pulitzer Prize finalist).

Schutt applied the Page 69 Test to her newest novel, Prosperous Friends, and this is what she found:
What I had hoped to find on page sixty-nine of Prosperous Friends was a recurring note in the novel’s song about love and marriage and ambition, and here it was then: together on a first date, Clive Harris and Isabel Bourne, met at a wedding a year before where Clive first kissed her. Here is part of the melody: the easy, unwise seduction of an uncertain woman by a practiced, dangerous man.
Isabel’s hand was all lily of the valley and clean; her nails were shell. “You are inspiring,” he said, “but this restaurant we’ve found...”

“Is silly,” she said.

Clive smelled her hand once again, and the restaurant turned buoyant, and the service, the service was, well here came the waiter with dessert already: the eight-layer cake, white with red filling, wedding-like and flouncy on a tablecloth scraped so clean that the dinner seemed to be starting again, and Isabel was saying she would like it to start again. “And I’m not fond of Wednesdays.”

“Ah, hah.”

“Would there be anything else?”

“No thank you.”

“I’m baffled,” she said once the waiter had left. “You baffle me.”
And so Clive Harris will continue to baffle her. Thirty-five years older, he will invite her to Maine to live in a second house he owns not far from where he lives and paints with his wife, his second wife, Dinah Harris, a poet. In Maine, Isabel will serve as temporary muse and baffled mistress.
Not a remark to answer, but Clive smiled at the small hook Isabel used to catch him. He, a ravaged carp, practiced in taking advantage of the stunned or wounded, although his appetite, of late, had dulled. And why cloak his intentions so darkly? He wanted to be kind if only Isabel would hold still and let him look at her: bark-brown hair and eyes; eyes wide apart, pale face.
Clive will take advantage of her just as he predicts on page sixty-nine.
Learn more about the book and author at Christine Schutt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue