Monday, April 16, 2007

Paul Toth's "Fishnet"

Paul A. Toth lives in Michigan. His first novel Fizz and its successor Fishnet are available now.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to Fishnet and reported the following:
Ah, Ford Madox Ford was clearly on to something. I must try this experiment with other novels I've read. On page 99 of Fishnet, the main character, Maurice Melnick, finally confronts the imagined (?) ghost of his father. Meanwhile, his wife reveals one of the first signs of the impending illness that, on this page, is not yet clear to the reader; it's a setup. Finally, the two fall asleep together and ponder whether they should abandon their doomed town of Mercy, California. They decide against doing so. In these elements can be found the exact turning point of the novel. Since the book is short, 166 pages in all, page 99 falls close to the middle of the story, and so it seems to me less than a coincidence that this major shift in plot occurs right on the page Ford suggested. Whether this is the only page my naysayers read, or the only page they did not read, I cannot say, nor can I predict whether those who love the book noticed anything I've mentioned. But it does raise a point: How conscious are writers when it comes to the placement of key events? For me, it's an instinctual process. I both envy and pity authors who plan every scene of a novel. I envy them because they gain a certain control, and I pity them because they remain under a certain control. I suppose I like to fly without autopilot engaged.
Visit Toth's website, blog, and MySpace page.

His short fiction credits include The Barcelona Review, Night Train and The Mississippi Review Online. His latest project, a multimedia exploration of the connection between Hitler's love life and the central catastrophe of the 20th Century, is available in a signed, limited edition.

--Marshal Zeringue