Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nicholas Griffin's "Dizzy City"

Nicholas Griffin's books include the historical novels The Requiem Shark and House of Sight and Shadow and the nonfiction work, Caucasus.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new novel, Dizzy City, and reported the following:
I want to distance myself from my 99th page. Better yet, let me explain it. Drop in on it from above, as the test recommends and you'd think you'd discovered a novel about a pair of drunken bigots about to wreck a Harlem nightclub in 1916 New York. However, Dizzy City is a book about con artists, war veterans and showgirls told from three different points of view. By page 99 we have lots of suspicions. Who is conning who? Are these two men, who we've just seen cheating and bullying their way through the night, really that bad, or will we learn something vital a few pages later that lets us see this apparently humiliating situation in a brand new light?

Still, despite knocking the 99th page test, it ends up being one of the most vital pages in the book. Pieces of information are picked up by the reader, even though they may not seem so much valuable as down right offensive at the time. That's the joy of giving your game away slowly. If you can get a reader to like, dislike and re-like a character, then that forgiveness tightens the bond.

In the end, con novels aren't so dissimilar to games of three-card monte. They're about trying to deceive the reader while entertaining them at the same time. So judging Dizzy City on page 99 alone would be like seeing a snapshot of a hand dealing a card and thus having no sense of the speed or trickery in the movement.
Read an excerpt from Dizzy City and learn more about the book and author at Nicholas Griffin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue