Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pg. 69: "My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up"

Stephen Elliott is the author of the novels Happy Baby, What It Means To Love You, A Life Without Consequences, and Jones Inn. He is also the author of the political memoir Looking Forward To It Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The American Political Process and the editor of the anthologies Politically Inspired and Stumbling and Raging: More Politically Inspired Fiction.

His latest book is the story collection My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up.

I asked Stephen to put the book to the "page 69 test." Here is what he reported:
Page 69 in My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up is definitely a good page to read in my book. It starts with a flashback. When I was fourteen (this is true) my father caught me sleeping on the streets and dragged me home and handcuffed me to a pipe in the basement of his house. So page 69 starts with that memory. Then, it comes back into a scene where the main character (me) is being tied to a bed by a woman he's just met. She's asking him if he likes it, trying to get him to communicate, but he's (I'm) not a good communicator. He says, "Do whatever you want to me. I don't want to know." And she responds, "But you have to tell me. You don't even know me. I need to know what you're into. What are your limits?" And that's how the page ends.
Many thanks to Stephen for the input.

The story "My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up" is available here. (I'm not sure if it's the entire, or final, version.)

Among the praise for My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up:
"Stephen Elliott knocks my fishnet stockings off."
—Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife

"Any true love story, if told with the urgency and animal intelligence of love, isn't for the fainthearted. On every page of this profound, distilled work of art, Stephen Elliott wrestles with the unknown and unspoken essences of love, and articulates that unknown so beautifully, with such clear-eyed fearlessness… Imagine a glass of pure water with one drop of blood hanging in its center, about to dissolve… Then drink it and be transformed."
—Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
For a good review essay of the book, see "The Softer Side of S/M," by Donna Minkowitz at Salon.

Visit Stephen's official website for more information, including links to his MySpace page, his Chicago Tribune profile, and various interviews.

There is a slightly dated biography of Stephen, which includes some interview links, at McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

Of Happy Baby, Curtis Sittenfeld wrote: "I actually reviewed this book for The New York Times Book Review, and before I started reading, I didn't think I'd be crazy about it--it's about a boy who becomes a ward of the state of Illinois, and it has some dark drug and sex stuff. But I absolutely loved it. It's told very matter-of-factly and is really poignant."

Stephen is the founder of the Progressive Reading Series which helps authors raise money and participate on behalf of progressive candidates across the country. He was a 2001 Stegner Fellow.

Previous "page 69 tests":
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue