Monday, February 29, 2016

"Speakers of the Dead"

J. Aaron Sanders is Associate Professor of English at Columbus State University where he teaches literature and creative writing. He holds a PhD in American Literature from The University of Connecticut and an MFA in Fiction from The University of Utah. His stories have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Quarterly West, and Beloit Fiction Journal, among others.

His first novel, Speakers of the Dead: A Walt Whitman Mystery (Penguin Random House) features a young Walt Whitman’s as he finds himself in the middle of body-snatchers, medical students, and the law.

Sanders applied the Page 69 Test to Speakers of the Dead and reported the following:
Speakers of the Dead is a mystery novel centering around the investigative exploits of a young Walt Whitman, in which the reporter-cum-poet navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City's body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge.

On page 69, Walt has reunited with his former boyfriend, Henry Saunders:
The two men fidget in silence. Walt can see himself in the mirror, his swollen face and prematurely graying hair, and that’s when he catches Henry looking at him.

“Stay awhile, if you like,” Walt says.


“Only if you want to.”
Though we don’t get much plot on page 69, this scene captures well the emotional center of the novel, the reuniting of ex-lovers and their uncertain future. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to say when I turned to page 69 to write this, I couldn’t believe how important the scene is.
Visit J. Aaron Sanders's website.

--Marshal Zeringue