Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"The Bookseller"

Cynthia Swanson is a writer and a designer of the midcentury modern style. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Swanson applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, The Bookseller, and reported the following:
I love it when random things work out in my favor. As it turns out, page 69 of The Bookseller is illuminating and rather instrumental to the storyline.

On that page, the main character - single, childless bookstore owner Kitty Miller - visits the street where (as her alter-ego Katharyn Andersson) she lives in her dream-life with her husband Lars and their children. The night before, Kitty had dreamed about this street and house - so the next day, she decides to investigate. She finds that the street exists - as in her dream, it’s in a neighborhood under construction, with many brand-new houses and others in the process of being built.

But her house is not among these. The lot which held the Andersson house in the dream is - in the real world - empty.
I stare at the space. I can see the pink-orange brick house in my mind. I know exactly how the house would sit on the land, the low roofline of the attached garage and main section of the house and the higher roof over the upper level. I can envision the saplings planted in the yard, the juniper bushes by the front door. I picture the driveway where Lars smoothly rolled up and parked the Cadillac. My mind visualizes the wooden lamppost next to which Alma stood and waited for her ride home.

But there is no house here, not even any plan for a house - none that I can see, at any rate. There is nothing here except brittle prairie grass, dirt, and weeds.
Kitty asks a passer-by if he lives in the neighborhood, and when he responds yes, she asks if there has ever been a house there, or if he knows of a family named Andersson. He responds negatively to both, leaving Kitty mystified and a bit empty inside.

So what’s going on? Well…you’ll have to read The Bookseller to find out.
Visit Cynthia Swanson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue