Sunday, March 9, 2014

"The Accident"

Chris Pavone’s first novel, The Expats, was published in 2012, and was a New York Times and international bestseller, with nearly twenty foreign editions and a major film deal. The Expats was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Macavity, and awards from the Strand Magazine Critics Circle, the Mystery Booksellers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, and received the 2013 Edgar Award and the 2013 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Pavone applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Accident, and reported the following:
Although page 69 is about a relatively minor character, it’s still a very good sample of The Accident—a back-story episode that (a) is an accurate recollection of this part of this character’s life, but (b) omits a crucial piece of information that the reader will learn much later, which will thoroughly redefine the meaning of this episode, and indeed of this character, and in fact of a large part of the book’s overall narrative. Every important character in The Accident is operating according to motivations, interests, and back stories that are not clear at the beginning of the book, and it’s these revelations that I hope are one of the more satisfying aspects of the novel.

And besides the story elements, page 69 also includes a paragraph that touches on the central theme of this book: ambition distorts our behavior, turns us into people we never imagined we’d become, and don’t necessarily like being. This may be a bit heavy (and I have to imagine that the Marxian phrase historical materialism doesn’t make frequent appearances in contemporary American thrillers), but it’s an important idea in The Accident, defining not only character but also propelling plot:
He attended the annual Thursday supper at his mother’s house in Brooklyn, the whole big hodgepodge of extended family and friends, now mostly people who could only be characterized as old, people who’d once held him as a baby, far-left-wing people who looked at that grown-up baby with the unmistakable disenchantment that accompanies shattered illusions, not just in a person, but in the unremitting disappointments of their historical materialism, embodied by him.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Pavone's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

--Marshal Zeringue