Monday, May 1, 2023

"No Two Persons"

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, The Lost Art of Mixing, and The Scent Keeper, which was a Reese’s Book Club pick. She is also the co-author of non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14, and the memoir, House Lessons: Renovating a Life.

Bauermeister has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, No Two Persons, and reported the following:
No Two Persons is a novel-in-stories which explores the idea that no two persons ever read the same book. We follow a single, fictional book, Theo, from its creation out into the world, where it is encountered by nine very different readers. The characters are separated by geography and time, and yet linked by their shared experience of reading—as well as in other ways they will never know. The readers include a literary agent and her assistant, an angry artist, a troubled free diver, a bookseller looking for love, a homeless teenager, a widower wishing for one last conversation with his wife, an intimacy coordinator for movies dealing with a slow point in her marriage. Theo enters each of their lives and changes them in ways that are as different as the characters themselves.

Page 69 is found in the middle of a story called The Actor. Rowan is a golden boy movie star who has fled into isolation after developing an unusual skin disease. His sister encourages him to use his beautiful voice as an audiobook narrator. He is resistant at first, but as he trains himself—listening to audiobooks while reading the print version, highlighting punctuation, figuring out how to turn physical descriptions into sound—he begins to fall into books. He becomes the characters, holding each one inside himself.
At first he, whose acting had always been so active, found the not-moving strange. His first fencing coach had always talked about stillness in motion, the inner calm within the outward movement. This was the opposite. Motion in stillness. Everything held in the voice.
In a way, The Actor is a microcosm of what I am asking readers to do with No Two Persons. Take a character into yourself. See Theo, and the world, through their eyes. Then do it again. And again. My hope is that in the end you see that difference is a beautiful thing, and reading is magic.
Learn more about the book and author at Erica Bauermeister's website.

The Page 69 Test: The School of Essential Ingredients.

The Page 69 Test: The Lost Art of Mixing.

The Page 69 Test: The Scent Keeper.

--Marshal Zeringue