Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"The Eidolon"

Libby McGugan was born 1972 in Airdrie, a small town east of Glasgow in Scotland, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant-turned-atheist father, who loved science. She enjoyed a mixed diet of quantum physics, spiritual instinct, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Her ambition was to grow up and join the Rebel alliance in a galaxy Far, Far away. Instead she went to Glasgow University and studied medicine.

A practicing doctor, she has worked in Scotland, in Australia with the Flying Doctors service, and for a few months, in a field hospital in the desert. She loves traveling and the diversity that is the way different people see the world, and has been trekking in the Himalaya of Bhutan, potholing in Sarawak, backpacking in Chile and Europe and diving in Cairns.

McGugan applied the Page 69 Test to The Eidolon, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
What does she think? That I’m making up some bullshit story about her sister to get things back on track? I’d have come up with something better than that, for fuck’s sake, after two weeks in the sodding wilderness.

The sky is the colour of old lead as I walk back along the glen. The hushed village street stretches ahead, the squat cottages huddled against the evening chill. There’s a fine drizzle on my skin, like being breathed on, and the air smells of clean cotton. You know what, Cora? The doctor was right. It is all just stress. What was I thinking? I’ll see my mum’s GP and get some of those pills I should have taken in the first place and I’ll not need to tell you about any of it.

“Don’t forget to give your mum my present! And wish her a happy birthday for me!” Casimir’s voice makes me jump – I’d barely noticed reaching his gate. The old man is standing on the grass at the side of his house with one hand on his empty beehive. He waves at me with the other. “I’m just off to do that right now.” I feel for the carved letter opener he made, safe in my pocket. “We’ll be down to see you later!”

“Aye, no doubt you will.” Casimir calls back, his hand still resting on the hive. I glance back. There’s something in the tilt of his head that seems unfamiliar. Wonder why all his bees died. What did Einstein say? We’ve got four years left, after all the bees die. The tarmac is broken under my boots. Old, splintered by the frost. There’s no need to tell Cora about the dreams or what happened in Tibet. It’ll go. I lock the thought in the past to stop it bleeding into the present.
Page 69 – (the UK edition anyway!) Is it representative? I think so. Protagonist Robert Strong is wrestling with his feelings for Cora, his estranged partner. Like much of the book, it reflects his inner conflict with much of life (and his need to wash his mouth out with a bar of soap). Although he’s inherently cynical, he is having a hard time contenting with life’s bruises. And he’s had more than his fair share of them. A recent tumultuous trip to Tibet, in which he experienced the ‘Third Man Phenomenon’, still disturbs him, and with the dissolution of his relationship and research post, he feels anchorless. But, ever the pragmatist, and in the way that we are all meaning-making beings, he tries to assign a rational explanation to seemingly irrational events. This particular encounter with Casimir, his father-figure and good friend, proves to be more than he first assumes, although he doesn’t yet appreciate the subtleties of the exchange. And neither may the reader until the following page. Page 70 is where it’s at! It hints at what’s to follow and the direction the story is taking. You’re going to have to read it to find out more…
Learn more about the book and author at Libby McGugan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue