Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Susanna Moore's "Miss Aluminum"

Susanna Moore is the author of the novels The Life of Objects, The Big Girls, One Last Look, In the Cut, Sleeping Beauties, The Whiteness of Bones, and My Old Sweetheart, and the nonfiction works I Myself Have Seen It: The Myth of Hawai‘i and Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawaii. She lives in Hawai‘i and teaches at Princeton University.

Moore applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new memoir, Miss Aluminum, and reported the following:
There has been a misunderstanding, I believe, as to what Ford Madox Ford meant when he suggested opening a book at page 99 to determine "the quality of the whole." He was referring not to plot or story, but to the writing itself. If one understands him to mean just that, then I agree with him. One can tell if the writing is good or not by reading a paragraph or two on any page of a book. Unfortunately, page 99 in Miss Aluminum contains just a few lines of text, listing the clothes that I bought after a suitcase of mine was stolen, and a large photograph of me in a pool in Acapulco in 1968. It reveals nothing except my breasts.

The book, a memoir that begins in childhood and continues until I was thirty years old, was difficult to write. I found that I longed to apologize to many of the people about whom I was writing -- apologize for my youthful heedlessness, innocent but often harmful, and for my ignorance. At the same time, as a young woman I blamed myself for the sexual assault and beating that I suffered, as well as for my mother's death. It took many years for me to understand that I was not responsible for much of the trauma I suffered. I've been asked if I will continue my story and write a sequel, but for now, Miss Aluminum is on her own.
Learn more about the book and author at Susanna Moore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue