Friday, August 26, 2016

"Still Here"

Lara Vapnyar emigrated from Russia to New York in 1994 and began publishing short stories in English in 2002. She lives on Staten Island and is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at CUNY Graduate Center.

Her new novel is Still Here.

Vapnyar applied the Page 69 Test to Still Here and reported the following:
I applied page 69 test to my novel, and this line jumped at me: “the horror of witnessing her mother being erased as a human being was indescribable.” I rushed to close the book.

So I decided to cheat and apply the page 99 test normally reserved for nonfiction. On this page, one of my main characters, Sergey is falling in love with a GPS in his car who has the perfect voice and the perfect attitude. “She sounded as if she were aware of Sergey’s limitations but didn’t mind them at all. He could miss a turn, miss a turn again, miss a turn-he wouldn’t be angry, annoyed, or disappointed. So what if he kept missing the turn? There was still plenty about him to admire.”

On page 99, there is graphic scene of Sergey’s jerking off to the word “recalculating” his GPS pronounces in Icelandic. It culminates in violent orgasm.

In a way, that’s the whole idea of my novel. All the crazy things we do in our technology-obsessed world to escape the fear of death.
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--Marshal Zeringue