I don't think I'd ever heard of the 'page 99' test until very recently, when I got an email from the good folks at Legend Press/PaperBooks about a new website called Page 99 Test. The first thing I look for in a book is a decent cover, then I briefly flick through the blurb (accepting that most blurbs don't do justice to the book); after that, things get serious and I might have a butchers at what other novels the author has written before reading the first page of the one in hand. If all's good, I might browse a couple of random passages from further in the book, before deciding to buy it... but I've never headed to page 99.
This new website, which my friend and fellow author Gary Davison has already had a crack at, is about providing an opportunity for published and unpublished authors to post their own page 99. And good on 'em. All the details are on the site, so I don't need to go on about it here, although I've decided not to upload anything simply because it's yet another site that requires registration, password, email address, etc, just to read the page 99s, and at the moment I'm feeling over-registered and over-passworded as it is.
However, having Googled the history of the page 99 biz all the way back to Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), I thought I'd give it a go and would post my pages here. And then I opened The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore (paperback edition) and discovered that page 99 is just six lines at the end of Chapter Five:
She hands back, unread, the letter she wrote eighteen or nineteen years ago and continues massaging her back. “I’ve done the lunches,” she says, and heads down the hallway.
I pick out the corn dolly and put it with the flight bag and money belt, then shove everything else from the suitcase onto the topmost shelf of the wardrobe.
Hmm. Not much to go on. So, thinking creatively, I take down the large print, hard back edition of The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore, and open up to that page 99... and it's all about sex. Not many lines because it is in large print, but, anyway, here you go - now you'll have had both of them:
reminded of a crimson pæony unfurling at my fingertips; a moist, expectant darkness of pollen, charged and trembling at each touch.
“My clitoris,” she says, catching her breath. An overdue introduction.
She can give the names of things, summoning words and placing them where they belong. I’m in awe of that, know I have a library to learn, will have to browse the encyclopædia tomorrow.
“We’ve met,” I say.
“Careful,” she winces. “It’s sensitive there. Not so rough.”
“One clear It or Is of life,” I murmur, stroking. A rainbow in the making.
“I like that,” she sighs. “And you. You too.”
Stumped for words and blushing, I whisper, “John Thomas,” and would shrug my shoulders if I could. “Say hello to John Thomas.”
She grins and greets me continental-style. “Bonjour, monsieur.”
Later, we share a bath and soap one another down, giggling over spilt suds. I place a dollop of bath foam on each of her loganberry nipples; she places the raspberry welt of a love bite on my shoulder – tutti-frutti nakedness. We play those games people play when one says, “If you could be absolutely anything you wanted, what would
Now go and buy the book!