Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....
In this installment of Page 69,
Set up Page 69 for us.
Our tougher-than-nails, stronger-than-steel protagonist, Lilith, is invited for a beer with a local musician. Since her priorities have always been anchored to pursuing a life in music--that has yet to pay out--she seeks asylum in a conventional pursuit in which she lacks all interest: dating. Her lukewarm albeit honest attempt fails, paralleling other aspects in her life such as a soul-sucking job, codependent relationships, and her attempts to break into the indie music scene.
What is Single Stroke Seven about?
A band of musicians chasing an elusive pipe dream of breaking into the music scene. They cling to bad habits, routines, and dysfunctional relationships, subconsciously giving themselves excuses to avoid taking responsibility for their current situations or future.
This book is also about struggling to survive in an uncertain era where our country's health care system is broken, the economy erratic, and the ever increasing cost of living in the Bay Area makes it impossible to for even those gainfully employed to keep up with the bills.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what Single Stroke Seven is about? Does it align itself the collection’s overall theme?
Absolutely. In this book, we see a cluster of artists, musicians, continuously falling short in life because of inconvenient, ironic, or comical situations. This page exhibits multiple reasons why Lilith falls short of such a simple task such as landing a date. She desires to improve her situation, but ends up intimidating this hipster pansy, and falls back on what's always been safe and consistent: music and her life-long obsession with her best friend, Duncan.
Page 69 also reconnects with Lilith's overall struggle as a starving drummer who's fixated on the notion of making it big in the music scene. There's that universal quote about how we should never be focused on the destination, only the journey, but this book is all about being obsessed with the destination because the everyday perils of trying to survive in an uncertain time and an unstable economy prevents anyone from having energy, self-worth, and time at the end of the day to pursue any journey at all.
I hate to say I enjoyed seeing Lilith fail on Page 69, but I wrote her as someone who is certain of who she is, what she wants, and doesn't only run with the boys, but runs smarter and faster. Sure, there are ridiculous aspects about her, the way she bandages wounds with electrical tape, eats off the ground, and wears flannel shirts, but she sure as hell can defend herself when a grown-ass meth-head charges at her with a butterfly knife.
Ultimately, Lilith is, as I am proud to have written her in Single Stroke Seven, unapologetically herself.
SINGLE STROKE SEVEN
Lavinia Ludlow is a musician and writer dividing time between San Francisco and London. Her debut novel, alt.punk (2011), explored the ragged edge of art, society, and sanity, viciously skewering the politics of rebellion. Her sophomore novel, Single Stroke Seven (2016), explores the lives of independent artists coming of age in perilous economic conditions. Both titles can be purchased through Casperian Books. Her short works have been published in Pear Noir!, Curbside Splendor Semi-Annual Journal, and Nailed Magazine, and her indie lit reviews have appeared in Small Press Reviews, The Rumpus, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy Magazine, and American Book Review.