Friday, July 27, 2018

"The Emperor of Shoes"

Born in Boston, Spencer Wise is a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Texas at Austin and worked in the editorial departments at Sports Illustrated and Time Out New York. His work has appeared in Narrative magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Florida Review, and New Ohio Review. He is the winner of the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in nonfiction. Wise teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel, The Emperor of Shoes, and reported the following:
Yes! Page 69 couldn’t be more representative of the book. I love this page. Might be one of my favorite pages in the whole darn book. This is the scene where our narrator, Alex, first confronts his father about what he suspects are unethical business practices going on at their shoe factory. The father plays dumb. Alex has to use all the business acumen his father taught him to cajole the truth out of him. So there’s a great cat-and-mouse game here between two manipulative, cagey men, both of whom are hiding something from the other. It also resonates with Alex’s fear that he’s merely his father’s pawn. Alex calls himself a Golem, which is a monster from Jewish folklore created out of clay and brought to life by the breath of its master. On this page, Alex says, “I was staring straight ahead, but I could feel Dad side-eyeing me. I knew he was thinking: I created you. Like how the old rabbis would mold a mystical golem to follow orders—I honestly think that’s how Dad saw fatherhood. And now he was worried that his divine creation was beginning to turn against him.” This page perfectly captures the clash between the father and son as well as the ethical of quandary of how global capitalism, in this case, shoe manufacturing, can be run ethically.
Visit Spencer Wise's website.

--Marshal Zeringue