Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"Soon the Light Will Be Perfect"

Dave Patterson is an award-winning writer, musician and high school English teacher. He received his MA in English from the Bread Loaf School of English and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.

Patterson applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Soon the Light Will Be Perfect, and reported the following:
It’s wild how indicative of this entire novel page 69 really is. When I cracked open a copy of Soon the Light Will be Perfect and turned to the page in question, I found a scene where a group of true believers in the Catholic church have brought the mother, sickened with cancer, into a church chapel to be prayed over. This scene holds the crux of the entire book: the intersection of faith, tragedy, and the cruel realities of life for lower-middle class Americans.

In this scene, the mother has been placed in the center of the chapel with chairs arranged in a tight circle around her. The adults lean toward the mother, placing their hands on her body, ready to induce a miracle from God to rid her body of tumors. Here’s a sample paragraph from page 69:
In unison, they bow their heads and begin to whisper their own prayers. Their words melt into one another’s until there’s a steady hum of Jesus and cancer and Father and Savior and please. My hand rests on my mother’s wrist. I mumble my own prayer and watch the way the early evening sun comes in through the window and lights up my mother’s face. Her skin is pale. I imagine the black cancer inside her melting away from our prayer. And when that happens, she’ll open her eyes and laugh and we’ll all cheer and the four of us will get back in the car and head home and brag about the power of the Spirit. But she stays hunched over with her eyes closed.
This novel is about a family clinging to a faith that doesn’t seem capable of saving them from the misfortune of cancer and poverty. This scene embodies that theme. Throughout the book, some of the characters double down on faith as their prayers go unanswered, while others begin to loosen their desperate grip, slipping into the abyss. Page 69 roils with this tension as disparate prayers are whispered to a God who doesn’t seem to be listening.
Visit Dave Patterson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Soon the Light Will Be Perfect.

Writers Read: Dave Patterson.

--Marshal Zeringue