Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Sweetness #9"

Stephan Eirik Clark was born in West Germany and raised between England and the United States. He is the author of the short story collection Vladimir's Mustache. A former Fulbright Fellow to Ukraine, he teaches English at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Clark applied the Page 69 Test to his newly released debut novel, Sweetness #9, and reported the following:
Sweetness #9 tells the story of a flavor chemist who fails to blow the whistle on a new artificial sweetener, then later comes to regret this decision when the side-effects he first observed in laboratory rats and monkeys begin to appear in his wife and children. More than this, though, it is a novel that looks at the many ways we interact with food to show how what we eat reveals what we think about our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our relationships.

With that in mind, page 69 is highly representative of the novel as a whole. On it, my protagonist, David Leveraux, is struggling with what he's seen in animal testing and his inability to share his thoughts and fears with his wife. At such a point, many people would turn to religion for support. David is no different, though his religion is one of his own creation: believing this will make him live a long and healthy life, he adopts the diet of The Oldest Man in America -- in this case, a former missionary who picked up a taste for cassavas and coconut milk while serving as a missionary in The Kingdom of Kongo and then Siam.

"You do know what a cassava is, don't you?" David asks his wife, after insisting that she go shopping for him (he's too on edge to do it himself). "Not a sweet potato, not a yam -- a cassava," he continues. "Here, let me draw you a picture. Okay? Yes? Now once you've picked up those -- and get two dozen, if you can -- find some coconut milk. It's absolutely imperative that you find some coconut milk. Should I write that down?"
Visit Stephan Eirik Clark's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sweetness #9.

--Marshal Zeringue