Friday, July 18, 2008

Jonathan Evison's "All About Lulu"

Jonathan Evison has worked a wide array of jobs from syndicated talk radio host to rotten tomato sorter--in the former role, his comedy show "Shaken Not Stirred" was nominated for two Peabody Awards. He has received two Silver Microphones, and two Communicators and was frequently nominated for the Soundie Award.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his debut novel, All About Lulu, and reported the following:
From the top of page 99:

It was a photograph of Lulu and me at Cabazon, standing before Dinny the brontosaurus. I could intimate the photographer, just barely, in the form of Big Bill's ghostly reflection in the gift shop window. Lulu and I were ten years old. Lulu had the red ring of a cherry popsicle around her mouth, and was wearing oversized sunglasses. I was squinting, pre-Martian glasses, but smiling ear to ear in my World Gym shirt from Uncle Cliff, the one with the gorilla holding the world above his head like he wanted to throw it.

As to Ford's assertion that the quality of the whole shall be revealed on page 99, I must confess that I've labored for years under the misapprehension that page 69 held the key. What does that say about me? Don't answer that. In the case of "All About Lulu," I don't know whether page 99 speaks to the 'quality' of the whole, per se, but I do think the above passage speaks to the emotional core of the book, to that place William's heart longs forever to re-inhabit. When in adulthood William sets out on his pilgrimage to Seattle, it is "the ten year old heart" of Lulu which he seeks to recapture. Also, the passage from page 99 is set in Cabazon, which occupies a very significant place in the novel. As William states an earlier passage: "Cabazon was my favorite not because it captured my imagination, but because it captured Lulu's. The way she put it was, 'It's a lovely dream, because it's nobody else's.' And that's how she saw the thing, not as a brontosaurus, but as a dream."
Read an excerpt from all About Lulu, and learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Evison's website.

--Marshal Zeringue