Tuesday, March 23, 2021

"The Vietri Project"

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye was an Emerging Writing Fellow at the New York Center for Fiction, and her work has been published in Agni, Electric Literature, and LitHub. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she was the fiction editor of its literary magazine Ecotone. She is a native of Oakland, CA and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

DeRobertis-Theye applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Vietri Project, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I realized I didn’t need to go so far as to look up a utility account, really I could check any piece of mail. I tried to remember the dim orange-lit lobby of the apartment building, attempting to summon the memory of a mailbox. I decided that if I was willing to go as far as requesting a complete stranger’s birth certificate, if I had possibly stolen and kept in my possession a rare and not unpolitical book from someone named Chiara, then it seemed arbitrary to draw the line at trying to check Vietri’s mail. At least, I thought, I should return to the apartment, see if the mailbox was easily accessible, if so, peek at the names, put everything back in its place. A car was exiting the driveway as I walked up the street, I’d timed my visit to the morning, hoping to catch some resident leaving for work, and I broke into a jog, slipping inside the metal gate as it rolled shut, keeping my eye on the car as it continued down the street, but it didn’t slow. I doubted they had seen me, given the angle, still, I felt a rush of anxiety, or excitement, as I ascended the stairs, gave three soft knocks on Vietri’s door, suddenly afraid of what would happen if the shrill neighbor heard me again. But no one answered, and the steady thuds of my feet moving down the stairs calmed me, by the time I’d returned to the lobby my heartbeat had slowed, my head felt clear. The postboxes were just inside the entryway, thin and metal, with a lock at the bottom so that the door opened upwards to reveal a slot. Vietri’s number, like the door buzzer outside, was missing a name card, and I slid my fingers under the lip at the
I’m impressed by how well this would work! It even opens on a complete sentence, the start of a new section. Gabriele, the narrator, is deciding how far she will go on her search to find Vietri: will she, in this instance, try to break into his mailbox? She has been unable to find him home at his apartment, and finding proof of his existence itself has proved elusive. This is a turning point in the novel, in which she decides she’s willing to take a risk in order to find him, and it leads her into all of the discoveries in the rest of the book—a story of his life that encompasses one hundred years of Italian history. It’s also a scene that shows how the book engages with mystery tropes as well.
Visit Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Vietri Project.

--Marshal Zeringue