Thursday, August 3, 2017

"The Smack"

Richard Lange is the author of the story collections Dead Boys and Sweet Nothing and the novels This Wicked World, Angel Baby, and The Smack. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the International Association of Crime Writers’ Hammett Prize, The Short Story Dagger from Great Britain’s Crime Writers Association, and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Los Angeles.

Lange applied the Page 69 Test to The Smack and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I won’t whore for you,” Tinafey said. “If that’s what you’re hopin’, forget it.”

“I’d never ask you to do that,” Petty said.

“That’s what you all say till your pockets are empty.”

“I’m not a pimp, Tinafey,” Petty said. “That’s not my game.”

Tinafey squinted into his eyes, looking for the truth, then said, “Nobody’s waitin’ on me in Memphis, so I might as well stay a little longer. I ain’t even been to the beach yet.”

“We’ll do that.”

“And Beverly Hills? Rodeo Drive?”

“Wherever you want.”

“And if somebody asks, can I say I’m your girlfriend?”

Petty was taken aback by the question.

“Do you want to say you’re my girlfriend?” he said.

“It’d make things easier,” Tinafey said.

“Can I say I’m your boyfriend?”

Tinafey made a face. “That sounds stupid, doesn’t it?” she said.

“Not to me,” Petty said.

Boyfriend,” Tinafey said in a funny voice. “Girlfriend.”

“You ever had a white boyfriend before?” Petty asked her.

“Once, in high school,” she replied. “His daddy ’bout shit, though. Made him break up with me.”

“That’s Memphis for you.”

“That’s everywhere for you.”

Petty played with a drop of water on her shoulder.

“You ever had a black girlfriend?” she said.

“Sure,” Petty said.

“One you didn’t pay for?”

The sound of sirens spiraled up from the street.
Page 69 of my new novel The Smack is a conversation between Rowan Petty, a down-on-his luck conman chasing 2 million dollars in Army money smuggled out of Afghanistan, and Tinafey, a prostitute he met and fell for in Reno and convinced to accompany him to L.A., where the money is hidden. This conversation comes as the two are still feeling each other out, neither completely trusting the other yet, which is to be expected, considering the shady and dangerous world they inhabit.

This page is definitely representative of a certain strand of the narrative, and maybe the most important one. While there’s all kinds of murder and mayhem in the book, the characters always come first. My protagonists are people you normally wouldn’t root for –criminals, drunks, ne’er do wells who exist outside the boundaries of the square world – and one of the challenges I set for myself as a writer is to make you care about them and want to see them survive the perils I throw at them and succeed at whatever skullduggery they’re engaged in.

Rowan and Tinafey’s love story is the beating heart of the The Smack. They’re two lost souls who bump into each other one snowy night in Reno and manage, against all odds, to form a relationship that salves some of their previous wounds. Whether this relationship, or they, themselves, make it through the chaos and violence swirling around the stolen money they’re after…well, you’ll have to read the book to find that out.
Learn more about the book and author at Richard Lange's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Wicked World.

The Page 69 Test: Angel Baby.

--Marshal Zeringue