Thursday, December 3, 2020

"The Art of Violence"

S. J. Rozan has won multiple awards for her fiction, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, and Macavity, the Japanese Maltese Falcon, and the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. Rozan was born and raised in the Bronx and now lives in lower Manhattan.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Art of Violence, and reported the following:
Page 69 is largely dialogue, Bill Smith talking to two people who need to know what the case is about.

It's pretty spot on. Smith is clear on what he's doing; one of the other two is more confused than angry, the other more angry than confused, and they both find the situation -- that a client's hired Smith to prove he, the client, is a serial killer -- unbelievable.

Page 69 finds people arguing over the truth. Truth is at the heart of The Art of Violence. Everyone in the book has an agenda. If the truth will serve it, then the character's in favor of the truth. If it won't, the character chooses to deny the truth; or to shrug, ignore it, and move on. Not a lot of these characters are interested in the truth in the absolute sense: because it's true. That absolute truth is what Bill and Lydia have been hired to find.

The book's set in the art world. Keats said, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." In the art world, though, that just kicks the can down the road. Beauty may be truth, but how do you know you've found beauty? Who defines it, who sanctifies it, what relation does it have to value, to money? Is art about beauty? About truth? Can they be at odds? If so, what triumphs?

These are the questions that animate The Art of Violence. They fascinate me. I hope readers find them absorbing, too.
Visit S.J. Rozan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Paper Son.

--Marshal Zeringue