Monday, May 21, 2018

"The Blues Walked In"

Kathleen George is the author of The Johnstown Girls, a novel about the famous Johnstown flood. She has also written seven mysteries set in Pittsburgh: A Measure of Blood, Simple, The Odds, which was nominated for the Edgar® Award from the Mystery Writers of America, Hideout, Afterimage, Fallen, and Taken. George is also the author of the short story collection The Man in the Buick and editor of another collection, Pittsburgh Noir. She is a professor of theater arts and creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

George applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Blues Walked In, and reported the following:
On Page 69 of The Blues Walked, Marie David, who has worn nothing but stitched and mended hand-me-downs all her life buys a new coat. It’s not exactly new in that it has been returned to Gimbels after too long a time by a customer who changed her mind. This purchase is representative of a couple of things (I am thrilled to learn.) It’s the coat that will make her look much more sophisticated than she is and will cause her to be mistaken for Lena Horne. It is also like a coat Lena remembers from her childhood, something her father bought her, in a rich royal blue. The coat links these two women who are of different races and economic backgrounds. The things they share are emotionally bare childhoods and a love of movies, a love that has both of them dreaming about being discovered and put on the screen.

They also share a fascination with a charismatic young man Josiah (a Negro in the language of the day) who wants to be a movie director. They know there is something special about him. Both of them respond to his kindness and his emotional intelligence. When he’s jailed and accused of murder, both women go to the jail protesting. The officers only see a blue coat in one case and coifed hair and dark skin in both cases. They are not looking. They already have opinions about race and those opinions toss everybody—and unfortunately Josiah—onto the expendable pile.

I’m thrilled to learn that page 69 “talks” the language of the book. This test is always a terror. What if there’s nothing there? I always ask before I look. Whew.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

--Marshal Zeringue