Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Wildfire Season"

The Wildfire Season is Andrew Pyper's third novel.

His first novel, Lost Girls, was a national bestseller in Canada and a Notable Book selection of the New York Times Book Review (2000). His second novel, The Trade Mission, was selected by the Toronto Star as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year.

I asked Andrew to apply the "page 69 test" to The Wildfire Season. Here is his reply:
A reviewer recently called The Wildfire Season an “emo-thriller,” a play on the more established sub-category of eco-thriller, but here the “emo” standing for “emotional.” Although the very questions of classification and the lines drawn between so-called commercial vs. so-called literary fiction bring on a dull ache behind my eyeballs, I can live with emo-thriller. In all of my books – each of them distinct in setting and character and plot – my fundamental intent is to viscerally engage through story, the compulsive pull of the what-happens-next (the thrilling part of a thriller, I suppose). I want to achieve this, but not only this. There is always a second heart beating in my novels, a subtler rhythm, whether it be the difference between legal justice and moral good (Lost Girls), defining the “real” in a virtual age (The Trade Mission), or, in The Wildfire Season, the possibility of redemption through action, the test of how we react in a moment of crisis that will mark us for the rest of our lives. A love story, in other words.

Page 69 of The Wildfire Season isn’t such a moment, but it starts us toward one. The scene finds Miles, the chief of an under-qualified firefighting team in a forgotten, booze-sodden town in the middle of the Yukon where he has been hiding from the world, paying an awkward visit to the motel room of Alex, his long-ago ex-girlfriend who has tracked him down – and Rachel, a five-year-old girl he has never met before. His daughter.

It is this painful and seemingly hopeless family reunion that shocks the second heart of the novel to life – the emo of this emo-thriller. For when, later, an uncontrollable forest fire surrounds the town, and Alex and Rachel are trapped in the eye of the storm, Miles must embark on an impossible, Odysseus-like journey through an underworld of flame and back again. It is a test of action through which he might prove his potential for becoming human again, or put another way, his worthiness to the unexpected gift of love.
Many thanks to Andrew for the input.

Read an excerpt from The Wildfire Season.

Among the praise for The Wildfire Season:
"Lost Girls was one of the most stunning debuts I've read: literate, scary, haunting. Now, with The Wildfire Season, Andrew Pyper has solidified that marvelous potential. A novel of true haunting loneliness and isolation, plus a gripping story that scorches off the page.

This novel of extraordinary power combines the supernatural, edge of your seat suspense, nature in all its wondrous ferocity, and scars--visible and invisible. The writing is a dream, demonstrating that indeed, the past can kill. This is a novel that blazes with all the ingredients of the best literature."
--Ken Bruen, author of The Guards and The Magdalen Martyrs

"Outstanding...Pyper's pacing is impeccable. A captivating book."
--London Evening Standard (U.K.)

"Stampeding narrative urgency... A fierce morality tale."
--New York Times

"Andrew Pyper has talent galore and sure hands, ratcheting up the suspense to the very end."
--Stewart O'Nan, author of The Good Wife
L.J. Hurst interviewed Pyper.

The Wildfire Season has been optioned for adaptation to film by Chris Moore, the producer behind Good Will Hunting, Reindeer Games, the American Pie movies and other film and TV projects.

Visit Andrew Pyper's website.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Wendy Werris, An Alphabetical Life
Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Meghan Daum, The Quality of Life Report
Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin' Man
Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost
Paul Collins, The Trouble With Tom
John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet
Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero
Bill Crider, Murder Among the OWLS
Zachary Shore, Breeding Bin Ladens
Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Lawrence Light, Fear & Greed
Simon Read, In The Dark
Sandra Ruttan, Suspicious Circumstances
Henry Ansgar Kelly, Satan: A Biography
Alison Gaylin, You Kill Me
Gayle Lynds, The Last Spymaster
Jim Lehrer, The Phony Marine
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.
Debra Ginsberg, Blind Submission
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
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