Thursday, September 25, 2014

"In the Red"

Elena Mauli Shapiro was born in Paris, France, and moved to the United States at the age of 13. She has amassed several degrees in literature and writing around the San Francisco Bay Area (Stanford University, Mills College, UC Davis), where she still lives with one scientist husband and two elderly half-Siamese cats who spend all day following sunbeams around the house. Her novel, 13 rue Thérèse, was released by Little, Brown in February 2011.

Shapiro applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, In the Red, and reported the following:
Page 69 of In the Red:
Amy unbundles some hundreds and places them in the little top tray. She pushes a button; there is a leafy whir. They watch the machine pass the bundle and display the expected “100.”

“So,” Amy asks, “have you ever been in love?”


Irina looks her coworker in the face, unsure of what is happening.

“Have you ever been in love?” she repeats.

Is Amy joking? Of all the words to say in a goddamn vault, “love” must be one of the most misplaced. Irina sees nothing but earnestness in Amy’s face, which is in itself a trifle unusual. So she answers, simply, “Yes.”

Irina sighs. She thinks she’s given enough of an answer, but Amy isn’t moving, isn’t taking the cash back out of the counter to rebundle it. She plainly expects more clarification, and asks for it. “How was it?”

“It was a fucking disaster,” Irina says.

Amy considers this answer and then shrugs. “Sounds about right,” she says as she reaches for more of the money.

Irina does not yet know that this is normal. Being hermetically sealed in the vault alone with another person can do that.Maybe it’s the confinement, all the sounds of the outside world totally blocked off by the layers of metal and concrete. Something about the vault will make a banker tell another banker about the abortion she’s never spoken of with anyone before; it will make a banker ask another banker—a near stranger—what fears keep him up at night.
What is on this page:

• Falling in love is a fucking disaster.

• Confinement and money do strange things to people’s minds.

I think this is actually a pretty good capsule of the book as a whole! The page 69 test totally works.
Visit Elena Mauli Shapiro's website.

--Marshal Zeringue