Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"The Travelers"

Chris Pavone is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Accident and The Expats, which won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, has been translated into twenty languages, and is being developed for film, and the brand-new thriller The Travelers, which is already under option at DreamWorks. Pavone was a book editor for nearly two decades before moving to Luxembourg, where he started writing The Expats. He now lives again in New York City with his wife and kids.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Travelers and reported the following:
On page 69, two very different things are happening on opposite sides of the planet. Both scenes are excellent representations of The Travelers:

In Capri, a woman who’s going by the name of Marina—we know this isn’t her real name, but we won’t learn her true identity for a long time yet—is lounging in the sunshine on a terrace perched high above the sea,
just another scantily clad woman reading fashion magazines and smoking cigarettes on a chaise longue at a fancy hotel. Noticeable, but also ordinary. There are always people like her in places like this.
She’s observing the other guests, obviously waiting for someone in particular, a man:
Marina feels her pulse accelerating while she delays looking directly at the newcomer, until she can’t help herself anymore, and then from the safety of her sunglasses she redirects her eyes to examine his face—

But no.
We don’t really know what’s going on here, but we can’t help but suspect from her secretive behavior and racing heart that it’s something nefarious. Plus there’s ominous foreshadowing via a pair of middle-aged women, “talking in hushed tones, exchanging bits of gossip, mortifying anecdotes about other teenage girls, their bad choices and predictable outcomes.” All the characters in this novel make bad choices with predictable outcomes—which later prove to be something else entirely, something completely unpredictable. In The Travelers, what you think is going on is almost never what’s really going on.

The other scene takes place in Argentina, where the protagonist Will Rhodes is exploring the pampas, writing an article for his job as an international correspondent for Travelers magazine. As with the Capri passage, there’s oblique action whose purpose is to suggest something about the main story—mortal violence:
He looks the lamb in the eye before the farmer slits its throat and hangs the carcass from the rafters, draining blood into a dented tin bucket. The next night they grill the lamb on an iron spit over a wood fire in an open pit, and eat big chunks, hewn by a machete.
Will is participating in the slaughter of the lamb, trying to be dispassionate about the inevitability of the animal’s fate, while at the same time kidding himself about his own:
Will can now go an entire day without thinking about Elle, who’s fading into his past, dragging his guilt out with her receding tide. He’ll be fine.
I hope readers understand that the opposite is true: Elle isn’t really fading away, and Will won’t be fine.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

--Marshal Zeringue