Thursday, March 29, 2018

"The Wild Inside"

Jamey Bradbury's work has appeared in Black Warrior Review (winner of the annual fiction contest), Sou’wester, and Zone 3. She won an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Bradbury applied the Page 69 Test to The Wild Inside, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
…That hot coal still burning inside me, but it had changed. Felt more like hope smoldering in me now than anger. A feeling like that, there’s two options. You can leave it be and it will burn out eventually. Or you can do something with it. Stoke it. Add fuel. Watch the flames grow.

Take it into the woods, light your way.
Page 69 of The Wild Inside turns out to contain most of the elements that drive the entire book: At the top of the page, there’s rebellious Tracy, making a decision to defy her father’s rules and sneak out with her sled dogs to train for the Iditarod at night. Later, when she does, she’ll make a discovery—there’s someone out there in the woods, someone waiting and watching her family’s house—that will determine her actions over the course of the rest of the book.

Then, after the page break, Tracy is back inside her own head, remembering her mother, Hannah, who passed away two years ago. This is how most of the book is structured, switching between present action and past memory as Tracy tries to understand the secrets her mother kept and the reasons so much was left unsaid when she died. In fact, page 69 begins to reveal the key to that understanding as it describes Hannah’s mercurial temperament—the way she seemed to change almost overnight, becoming depressed and cutting herself off from the world.

Here, too, as in the rest of the book, Tracy’s voice is what drives everything. Throughout The Wild Inside, her strange way of talking—her odd metaphors and grammatical laziness—narrows the sometimes unreliable point of view and challenges readers to ask: Is Tracy really seeing things for what they are?
Visit Jamey Bradbury's website.

--Marshal Zeringue