Thursday, September 30, 2021


Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry.

They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

Perry applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Pure, and reported the following:
From page 69:
…Or maybe it’s me and I have pre-summer-onset SADs––seasonal affective disorder plus sorrow. Freddie aligns his ass to true north to take a dump and I am grief-frozen. I’ve slithered from “DOING GOOD” to “LOST” on the Snakes and Ladders board and am sliding to BEREFT.

I am character–, skills– and imagination-deficient. I have a knack for failure and for lies.

I’d written “freelance writer” instead of “forger” in the “About Me: Occupation” section of the Valley Haverim Chevra Kadisha intake form. I omitted mentioning that I was a plagiarism-enabler. An unencumbered-with-ethics problem-solver who’d write your job application essay, compose the poem or short story your English teacher had assigned, pen your college admissions essay or your freshman paper––often a slightly altered previous forgery––and for a bigger fee, I’d take a whole online course plus exams in your name.

I’d included my one legit job, though it had ended when my employer, editor in chief and publisher of Mission City Lifestyle Digest, deemed that I was not “essential” during the pandemic. My “work” consisted of lifting biographies almost verbatim from the websites of the realtors, interior decorators, yoga instructors, coffee roasters, chefs, landscape designers, plastic surgeons, gynecologists specializing in vaginal rejuvenation and orthodontists that were published as “profiles” among full color ads for “The Tri-Counties’ Best”––who happened to be the same realtors, decorators, yoga studio operators, coffee roasters, restauranteurs, landscape designers plastic surgeons, vaginal rejuvenation gynecologists and orthodontists––that made up ninety percent of the “magazine” which was delivered for free to medical and dental offices and upscale salons and businesses throughout Santa Barbara, Montecito and Ventura counties.

Except for the humiliation, leaving Mission City Lifestyle Digest had felt good and meant that I could stop pretending––except to my aunt––that I was a working “journalist.” But instead using my newly freed-up time to drive to L.A. and check up on my aunt, I retreated into my room in the Goleta house…
Page 69 of Pure introduces the reader to my first-person narrator––young or young-ish, opinionated, self-deprecating and full of grief––and lets the reader know that there’s a dog in the story named Freddie. The narrator has filled out an intake form from Valley Haverim Chevra Kadisha where she applied for a position of some kind. If the reader of page 69 is curious or scrupulous, he might look up “Valley Haverim Chevra Kadisha,” realize that “Valley Haverim” is fictional and find out that a chevra kadisha is a Jewish burial society.

The reader also learns that the narrator used to write college papers, essays, and attend classes for money and that she has an aunt she regrets not visiting. So, page 69 delivers the vibe and tone of the novel and a sense of who the person at its center is and some information about her past.

But page 69 doesn’t tell the reader why the narrator wants to work in a Jewish burial society, why she is “bereft,” or why she seeks a way of “doing good.” And all this is really important, crucial stuff, so I’d have to give my page 69 a test score of D, Poor.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Pure.

Q&A with Jo Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue