Atkinson applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America, as well as to other books he's published, and reported the following:
As a scientific experiment, aimed at proving Ford’s hypothesis, I have selected one sentence from page 99 of my last four books.Visit Jay Atkinson's website.
Massacre on the Merrimack:
“Despite frequent bursts of temper, Frontenac had a sharp wit and didn’t always take himself or his office too seriously.”
Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man:
“Surf. Wake up,” I said. “The cops.”
“All the swimming pools in that part of the country are above ground, for some reason; you can see their shimmering blue orbs dotting the neighborhoods as you fly out of Midway.”
Then her eyes, heavy with mascara, flickered over Ryan in a quick appraisal. ‘You’re drunk,” she said.
(Okay, I cheated. That’s two sentences).
These five sentences prove….well, I don’t know what they prove. But Ford’s larger point is a good one. If something is well made, it will show in every detail. Flip over a Chippendale armchair and examine the seat backing. Despite the fact that hardly anyone would do such a thing, the simple, direct, clean elements of the craft that went into the underside of the chair will be on display there as much as anywhere else. Similarly, I can pick up, say, Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Heart or Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, choose a page at random, and within seconds, I will be possessed by the sure and certain knowledge I’m in the presence of a master.
So, yes Mr. Ford. I get it.
My Book, The Movie: Massacre on the Merrimack.
Writers Read: Jay Atkinson.