Friday, May 10, 2013

"The Slippage"

Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of several acclaimed books of fiction, including Superbad, Superworse, and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love. His fiction, essays, and journalism have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All Story, McSweeneys, and Opium, and he has been widely anthologized.

Greenman applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Slippage, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my book, the title has just been introduced: or rather, the concept of the title. The book is called The Slippage, and the concept of the slippage, which is actually part of page 67, comes from something that Tom, one of the main characters, says to William, the main character. Tom is an artist who makes charts and he defines the slippage as the moment when you start to lose your footing in the world—not your grip on reality, exactly, but your sense that your actions are especially meaningful, or that your choices truly direct the course of your own life. Instead, you start to see that maybe things happen without your input, and out of your control, that the universe is less hostile or friendly than ultimately indifferent. A different kind of crisis settles in. Tom tells William about the slippage at the end of a chapter, and page 69 is the beginning of the next chapter, and William is waking up in bed at night only to discover that his wife is not beside him. Don't worry! She's not missing or kidnapped or anything! She has just gone to the living room, where she was "sitting with her legs folded under her...television...on, but not the volume." A little while later she plays with a tube of lipstick, "swiveling it up and down, and William started to feel transfixed by the way it always went back where it came from." There are some of William's first conscious experiences of the slippage, and some of his last—one of the things about the book, I think, is that no one really learns. It's not based in epiphany. People go up and come back down like lipstick in a tube, and also like lipstick mostly what they do is leave a little trace of themselves, no less but no more.
Learn more about the book and author at Ben Greenman's website.

The Page 99 Test: A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both.

Writers Read: Ben Greenman.

--Marshal Zeringue