Thursday, April 23, 2015

"The Listener"

Rachel Basch is the author of The Passion of Reverend Nash (named one of the five best novels of 2003 by The Christian Science Monitor), Degrees of Love, and The Listener, out now from Pegasus Books.

Basch applied the Page 69 Test to The Listener and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Listener happens to be the final page of a chapter. Less than half the page is filled with text. Both the white space and the words are fairly representative of the overall book. Malcolm Dowd, one of the main characters in the novel, is a clinical psychologist, so there is both a lot of talking surrounded by requisite silence in many of the scenes. Even though page 69 is short on words, two of the novel’s central subjects are present— identity and love, specifically parental love.

This page concludes a scene between Malcolm and his younger daughter, Leah, who has suddenly come home for the weekend from college. Leah has been pumping Malcolm for information she feels he’s been withholding from her and her sister about their mother, who died in a car accident when Leah was only 6. Leah tries to explain to her father that she might better understand herself if she had a fuller, more mature sense of who her mother really was. Near the end of the scene, Malcolm, from whose perspective the chapter is narrated, inwardly acknowledges that “he’d have to tell the girls everything, had planned all along to do so once he’d prepared them, given them all he could. Just as they were about to surpass him, when they were running at full speed, he’d hand off the rest of the information. He didn’t want to be forced to tell the thing before then.”

Page 69 ends with Leah speaking “‘Mom dying is both the worst thing in the world and as familiar to me… as you are.’” Malcolm does not respond with words. Rather, he walks over to where his daughter is seated: “He bent slightly, closed his eyes, and pressed his lips to the crown of her head, just as he had done the very first time he saw her.”
Visit Rachel Basch's website.

--Marshal Zeringue