Thursday, March 21, 2019

"A Dangerous Duet"

Karen Odden's interest in the Victorian era goes back to her New York University doctoral dissertation, which explored how the medical, parliamentary, and literary representations of nineteenth-century railway disasters helped to create a discourse out of which Freud and others fashioned their ideas of “trauma.”

Her first book, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today Bestseller and won the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona award for eBook Fiction.

Odden applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Dangerous Duet, and reported the following:
Page 69 ends a chapter, so it’s a short page, with a sentence that begins on page 68:
Yes, Sebastian was physically powerful enough to inflict this sort of injury; I’d seen his taut body arc and somersault in the air and watched him catch his sister, bearing both her weight and his with only one hand. But from what I’d seen, the two of them seemed intensely protective of each other. Wasn’t the trapeze act itself a testament to the trust that was between them?

But perhaps it was precisely that—an act, with the trust merely an artifice that vanished offstage, like Amalie’s French accent.
Somewhat to my surprise, this short page is fairly representative! One important theme in the novel is the interplay between on-stage and off-stage identities. Wherein lies the foundation for an authentic self? Is it in the series of repeated actions (for example, a nightly performance) that approximates some sort of solid “core” of traits? Or does it inhere in “essential” elements such as race or gender? My heroine, Nell Hallam, dresses as a man because male performers are paid twice as much, but her costume also allows her certain liberties that facilitate her ambition and courage. Onstage, Amalie sings French songs with a pure accent, but she grew up in the East End and doesn’t understand the meaning of the lyrics she sings. For Stephen, an embittered performer, the distinction between truth and lies is blurred by the music hall roles. He insists that character is like an onion; one only finds different layers, and there is no solid foundation. Part of Nell’s trajectory is to clarify for herself the sorts of truth and the elements of character that matter.
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

The Page 69 Test: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Dangerous Duet.

--Marshal Zeringue