First Lines: Rose Madder

Bookstores are literally littered with books. Finding a book to read within such confines requires some sort of approach. There is one theory by Marshall McLuhan (he of “the medium is the message” fame) that says you should take a book, turn to page 69 and read it. If you like that page, take the book home and read it. If not, don’t.

One could ponder and theorize about the ‘page 69 test’, or one could put it to test. Let’s do the latter.

On page 69 of Stephen King’s Rose Madder, we find Rosie McClendon sitting in the office of a woman’s shelter, after she fled from her abusive husband. Here, she is told that Providence (with a capital P) brought her to the shelter, and when asked what her skills are, she realizes she has none.

Is this representative of the book as a whole? I think so. As far as the story goes, it isn’t overly exciting. A woman flees from home, and a mad man follows. The supernatural angle didn’t sit well with me, just as the concept of providence: it’s like saying that there’s no such thing as luck and everything happens the way it happens because of some supernatural force. A painting that works as door to another world (This world, all worlds…) is a nice concept, but the way the Rosie’s problem is taken care of in that world feels like a cop-out. If it wasn’t written so well, it probably would have been a unremarkable novel. The few allusions to the Dark Tower — …like a rare flower in a weedy vacant lot… — are nice for fanboys like me, but no big deal in the greater scheme of things.

Still, great first line.

Book read
Stephen King — Rose Madder
First line
She sits in the corner, trying to draw air out of a room which seemed to have plenty just a few minutes ago and now seems to have none.