Saturday, July 25, 2020

"Skin Deep"

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, PEN/Guernica, and Vox. He has written three novels, Skin Deep (2020), Love Love (2015) and Everything Asian (2009), which won the 2010 Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award (Youth category). In 2014, Everything Asian was chosen for Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.

Woo applied the Page 69 Test to Skin Deep and reported the following:
Page 69 of my mystery novel Skin Deep features three characters: Siobhan, Faith, and Molly. Siobhan is the private eye, and Faith and Molly are student activists of Llewellyn College, and the two young women are trying to convince Siobhan that their college’s incoming freshwomen are way more attractive than in years past. Molly demonstrates this on an iPad.
Molly swiped and moved things on the iPad with such speed and confidence that only comes from being born in a world that had always had the internet. A few more deft strokes of her fingers later, she held up the screen and showed me the same two-photo output like before, except this one had the faces aligned and split into four quadrants by way of two perpendicular green lines.

“Symmetry is one of the keys to facial attractiveness,” Molly said. “There’s an app that’ll calculate your beauty quotient.”

“As if girls don’t have enough reasons to feel bad about themselves,” I said.
Does the Page 69 Test work on Skin Deep? Pretty damn well, I must say. Eerily well. Siobhan is carrying out her job, investigating and interviewing people related to her case. One of the main central themes of my novel is the pursuit of beauty and its inherent dangers, and that is in full display here. Faith is a character who appears throughout the book, so even the principles are included here on this magical page. And this scene is taking place on Llewellyn’s campus, one of the two central locales of my book.

Page 69, I’ll never doubt you again.
Learn more about the book and author at Sung J. Woo's website.

My Book, The Movie: Skin Deep.

Q&A with Sung J. Woo.

--Marshal Zeringue