Monday, November 19, 2007

Katherine Marsh's "The Night Tourist"

Katherine Marsh is managing editor at The New Republic magazine in Washington, D.C., where she edits stories and essays on politics and culture. Her writing has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times magazine.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book The Night Tourist, and reported the following:
The Night Tourist tells the story of Jack, a lonely 14-year-old Classics prodigy, who travels to the New York City version of the Greek mythological underworld to search for his dead mom. His guide is a 14-year-old ghost who calls herself Euri and on p.99 of my book, Jack and Euri are at the St. James Theater looking for a ghost who can help them named Edna Gammon. A performance of "The Producers" is underway before a packed house of both the living and the dead but there is a disruption: A ghost with a red bob takes the stage and begins to sing.

All around [Jack], ghosts began to grumble and shift. "Oh for God's sake," said the silvery-purple-haired old woman. "Do we have to hear The Merry Malones every night?"

"Edna, shut up!" shouted another.

Jack tugged on Euri's sleeve. "They said, 'Edna'! Do you think that's
Edna Gammon?"

The silvery-purple-haired ghost leaned in between them. "You don't
look like you've been dead long enough to remember Edna," she observed.

Jack noticed her giving him the familiar stare. "Well, I…I…wasn't. I
just heard of her once."

"Once! You must know your theater. Most people haven't heard of
her at all. She was the understudy for Polly Walker in The Merry Malones, back in 1927. Horrible musical. She died before she could take the stage."

"That may have been a good thing," Euri remarked as Edna fell
to her knees screeching.

Suddenly, one of the living chorus girls tripped. "She's
interfering with the performers!" someone shouted from near the ceiling.

Page 99 is an accurate snapshot of my book and its themes — it illustrates the way the dead and living worlds interact, integrates real New York City history (The Merry Malones was the very first musical to run at the St. James, then Erlanger's Theater), and shows the constant threat Jack is in of being discovered as a living boy in the underworld. Readers will judge quality for themselves but, for me, the page embodies the combination of page-turning plot, humorous and inventive world, and the integration of history, culture, and mythology, that I hope will make The Night Tourist as a whole an enjoyable read.
Listen to an excerpt from The Night Tourist, and learn more about the book and author at Katherine Marsh's website.

--Marshal Zeringue