Friday, February 4, 2022

"The Matchmaker"

Paul Vidich is the acclaimed author of The Mercenary, The Coldest Warrior, An Honorable Man, and The Good Assassin, and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, LitHub, CrimeReads, Fugue, The Nation, Narrative Magazine, Wordriot, and others.

Vidich applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Matchmaker is one medium-long paragraph on the last page of chapter seven. It starts, “She opened her gloved hand to reread Dr. Knappe’s note, but a sudden gust of wind lifted it and carried it away, turning it round and round, and then sent it skirting across the street into oncoming traffic.” The next four sentences describe the character running into traffic to recover the note.

The Page 69 Test does not reveal any meaningful action of the book nor does it identify any characters. However, the page does hint at things that might pique a reader’s interest. A note that needs to be reread suddenly is lifted in a wind gust and the character is compelled to run into traffic to recover the note. This mysterious action might draw the reader into the book and provoke an interest.

Additionally, the language on the page is simple but seductive. Without calling attention to itself, the first sentence draws a picture of an intriguing moment. The ‘sudden gust of wind’ took the note and ‘turned it round and round’ before sending it ‘skirting’ it into ‘oncoming traffic.’ The woman rushes into traffic, risking her life, to recover the note. The reader will be curious what is written on the note.

While page 69 reveals nothing of the plot, story, or character, it does present a mystery (what is on the note?) and an urgency (why does she risk her life to recover the note?), which may be enough to entice the reader to read the novel. The Page 69 Test does a poor job of presenting an idea of the entire book, but it does a good job of provoking a reader’s curiosity.
Visit Paul Vidich's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercenary.

Writers Read: Paul Vidich.

--Marshal Zeringue