Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Judith Kelman’s "The First Stone"

Judith Kelman applied the "Page 99 Test" her new novel, The First Stone.

Here is an excerpt from page 99, followed by Kelman's analysis:
Everyone had gone still, even the youngest ones. Every eye in the room was on Brent.

“Has to be almost midnight. See the moon?” He pointed the bandaged knob of his hand at the large silver button mounted high on the shirt cardboard sky. “His nose starts burning, that’s the first thing. Something smells funny, strong. Then all of a sudden it’s so bright, he can see a whole galaxy of stars and comets flashing right through his eyelids.

“He tries to wake up, but he can’t. He’s stuck in this incredible nightmare…

In The First Stone, page 99 is set in a children’s hospital ward. Emma Colten, the story’s protagonist, is a professional artist who has volunteered to do a project with the kids. Her choice, a found-object collage featuring a monster, is the catalyst that induces a horribly burned little boy named Brent to tell the story of his monster father, who set fire to his bed on Halloween night.

At the novel’s heart lies a series of such unintended consequences. In this case, Emma’s attempt to divert the sick and injured kids at the hospital leads to a crucial emotional breakthrough. In another pivotal scene, the unintended consequence proves catastrophic. Emma innocently confides in a friend about disturbing words she heard from an upstairs neighbor’s child. “Daddy, please,” said the little girl, “I’m begging you.”

The “Daddy” in question happens to be the world famous chief of cardiology at the hospital where Emma’s husband is a cardiac surgery resident. Emma’s revelation unleashes a chain of events that threaten to destroy her husband’s future and far worse.
Learn more about The First Stone at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue