Saturday, September 7, 2019

"After the Flood"

Kassandra Montag is a poet and novelist. Her work has appeared in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Prairie Schooner, among other literary journals. She has won the Plainsongs Award, New Year's Poet Award, and 1877 Award.

Montag applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, After the Flood, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Daniel wouldn’t look me in the eye, and I felt tension coming off his body like steady heat.

“Maybe we should go, Pearl,” I said, setting my hands on her shoulders.

An old man from the table next to Daniel’s tottered toward us and laid a gnarled hand on my arm. He smiled widely, showing a mouth with few teeth. He pointed in my face.

“I see things for you,” he said, his voice coming out wheezy, stinking of alcohol and decay.

“Town prophet,” Daniel said, nodding to the old man. “He already told me my future.”

“What was it?” I asked.

“That I’d cheat death twice and then drown.”

“Not bad,” I said.

“You,” the old man pointed in my face again. “A seabird will land on your boat and lay an egg that will hatch a snake.”
This passage captures how different people grasp for control and meaning in different ways in this flooded world. The prophecy refers to Myra’s two daughters: seabirds are symbolic of Row, and snakes are symbolic of Pearl. As such, the passage touches on the primary conflict of the novel: Myra’s dilemma in choosing between protecting Pearl and rescuing Row. Daniel’s prophecy alludes to how he has cheated death once already (Myra saved him by fishing him out of the sea) and asks the question: will he really cheat death again? And if so, how?

In this passage, both Myra and Daniel are keeping secrets from each other about their motives, and prophecy—the belief in fate—creates a contrast to their grappling for control through deceit. This excerpt is a calm moment in the eye of the storm. A lot of the book features action-oriented passages: sailing through a storm, hand-to-hand combat, etc. I like how these moments of dialogue establish a bit more context for the reader. Page 69 is representative of the book in how it portrays the secrecy, dilemmas, and desires of these characters, though it is a quieter moment compared to other passages in After the Flood.
Visit Kassandra Montag's website.

My Book, The Movie: After the Flood.

--Marshal Zeringue