Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"We Are Not Good People"

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. His books include the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books. He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Somers applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, We Are Not Good People, and reported the following:
As it happens, page 69 of We Are Not Good People is ideal, as it actually touches on several themes of the book, is the moment where the protagonist actually realizes just how much danger he’s in and is the first real interaction with the villain, and even includes a nice thumbnail of what the protagonist is: A Trickster.
She studied me for a moment with her bright, glowing green eyes. “Mr. Vonnegan, this is the price of your continued existence. Do you understand me? Refuse me, and I will take you as compensation.” She leaned back in her seat and placed one hand against her temple. “You cannot replace my property. You are not suitable. Suitable candidates are in limited supply and difficult to produce. Therefore, if you do not restore my property me, Mr. Vonnegan, you will suffer for it.”

The word suffer seemed to emerge from her in a cloud of poison, and I had trouble breathing.

I stared at her illusion of herself, and the illusion stared back, power beating against me like a hurricane. I frowned. “I am not a—”

“I know precisely what you are, boy,” she snapped, her voice drowning me. “Idimustari, Trickster. Grifter. A small man of small talents worming his way through life with childish gibberish. Cantrips and other mu, dust in the eyes of those who cannot see.”
The protagonist, Lem, is just starting to realize he is completely out of his depth, and that if he tries to protect the ‛property’ referred to here (a young woman named Claire) he’s going to be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also a good spot because it underlines another theme in the book, which is that no one is particularly good or heroic – hence the title of the book, which is very much an arc-phrase – but there are levels and gradations of badness. Our protagonist might not be a good person, but he is not as unabashedly evil as his interviewer here, who is seeking to set new records for bloodshed.

It’s also a rare page in the book without any profanity.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

--Marshal Zeringue