In this installment of Page 69,
we put Sarah Layden's Trip Through Your Wires to the test!
Ok, Sarah, set up page 69 for us.
Carey Halpern, on her first day of school in Mexico during her junior year abroad, skips classes with Ben and Mike. The two American men have been to Mexico before, and they lead her to a courtyard to watch Alejandro perform a fire-eating routine.
What is Trip Through Your Wires about?
In Trip Through Your Wires, we know from the start that Ben was killed in Mexico, and that Carey never dealt with the grief of losing him. The novel alternates between past and present, Mexico in the mid-1990s and Indianapolis seven years later, when a clue in the murder case forces Carey to revisit her memories of events. She knew more than she thought, and must come to terms with the guilt of that realization.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what Trip Through Your Wires is about? Does it align itself the book’s overall theme?
It really does. Nicely done, TNBBC! This page gets three main characters together on the scene, plus one minor character. It shows the sense of unknowns and danger and excitement that was such a part of Carey's experience in Guanajuato. This particular Mexican city is such a vivid, amazing place, with beautiful cathedrals and theaters, winding alleyways, and mountains all around. This portion shows a smaller sliver of life in the city: a beautifully tended garden courtyard, but one that is obscured from view with high walls. That seems resonant of the rest of the book, too: what's hidden versus what's out in the open.
Trip Through Your Wires
Ben raised his hand like a boy in school, his fist closed as if in salute. When he opened his hand, a silk scarf, the same green of Carey’s tank top, fluttered to her shoulders. He shook it out of the folded triangles and let go, and she reached to keep it from the wet pavement.
“Pretty,” Carey cooed. “Where did you get it?”
Ben ignored the question. His hand moved through his hair as if searching for a lost item. “It’s practical. Tie it around your hair before we go in.”
Ben knocked on the door in a quick succession, a practiced, specific rhythm, and Carey hurried to tie her hair back with the green scarf. When no one answered, Ben opened the door.
Inside was the outside: the sun beat down on a square courtyard, with cement paths and landscaped flower beds. Stone benches flanked a small reflecting pond. Bordering the pristine garden on all sides were run-down apartment buildings: layers of balconies climbed five or six stories, with clotheslines strung between them. Relief and disappointment ebbed and flowed in her, just like her alternating desires for adventure and predictability. She had thought they were taking her to a bar, or to the seedy side of town. The beautifully tended garden grew sprays of orange and red lobelia, low-growing hyacinth and green shrubs. The flowers emitted a fragrance more potent than a department store perfume counter. Some of the blooms still shaded by the buildings displayed buds waiting to open. Carey began to relax, and when a man stepped silently from behind a door with three folding metal chairs, she almost shrieked. He had a sharp face and hollow cheeks. Maybe a little older than Ben and Mike. He kept his head down and gaze averted.
Sarah Layden is the winner of the Allen and Nirelle Galson Prize for fiction and an AWP Intro Award. Her short fiction can be found in Boston Review, Stone Canoe, Blackbird, Artful Dodge, The Evansville Review, Booth, PANK, the anthology Sudden Flash Youth, and elsewhere. A two-time Society of Professional Journalists award winner, her recent essays, interviews and articles have appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, The Writer's Chronicle, NUVO, and The Humanist. She teaches writing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana Writers Center.