Saturday, April 27, 2013


JoeAnn Hart lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, where fishing regulations, the health of the ocean, and the natural beauty of the world are the daily topics of wonder and concern. She is the author of the novels Addled, a social satire that intertwines animal rights with the politics of food, and the recently released Float.

Hart applied the Page 69 Test to Float and reported the following:
How nice! Look. There’s a lot of great tension on Float’s page 69. The protagonist, Duncan Leland, and his nemesis, the unsavory Osbert Marpol, have met for lunch to discuss a business deal to save Seacrest’s, Duncan’s fish dehydration plant in Maine. Osbert is a Churchill-quoting loan shark, and as desperate as Duncan is to borrow money, he becomes increasingly uneasy the more they talk. Osbert knows too much personal information about Duncan, including the fact that he is separated from his wife and living at home with his mother. Slocum, referred to in the beginning of the excerpt, is the owner of the restaurant, Manavilins. He is Duncan’s best friend, but a bit too experimental when it comes to cooking, so they are engaging in dangerous behavior just by having lunch. Not only is this page representative of Float, it is the turning point, where Duncan throws his fate into a deal that risks not just his business, but his life.

Page 69, excerpt:
“You lived with Slocum not so long ago, didn’t you?” He picked up his cigar and rolled it between his fingers.

Duncan paused, alarmed that Osbert had explored the hidden marshes of his personal life. He’d done no research at all on Osbert, as if his rumored connection with the mob told him everything he needed to know. But he realized now he knew absolutely nothing. “For a few days,” he said, coughing his words into his freckled fist. “I’m out on the Cove now.”

“Your mother’s house.”

Duncan bristled. “The family home.”

“You know, Leland, you’re not intended to live on a life raft. It's only supposed to get you away from a sinking ship.”

“Is that your buddy Churchill's saying?”

“No,” said Osbert. “In your case, it’s a popular observation.”

“Well, my marriage isn’t sinking,” said Duncan. “It’s only floating at anchor for the moment.”

“Be that as it may, Seacrest's anchor is dragging. A dangerous situation. You're lucky I'm here to help.”

Before Duncan could formulate a response, he heard something large and wet being slammed repeatedly against the building, the sound of which only added to his distress. He reached for his red plastic water glass and knocked it over, flooding the table and causing cubes of ice to spin away. Marney came running over with a towel. Densch, the busboy with a jawline beard, appeared with a fresh glass. They were keeping a very short lead on him. Everything was put to rights in a minute as Osbert watched with acid amusement.

When the workers disappeared, Duncan spoke in a low voice. “I don't need help."

“Beaky tells me that's what you'd say," said Osbert. “But we know otherwise, and so do you. Here's the deal.”
Learn more about the book and author at JoeAnn Hart's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: JoeAnn Hart and Daisy.

--Marshal Zeringue