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Page 123 Meme - Never Come Morning

Marshall Zeringue at Campaign for the American Reader has tagged with the Page 123 Meme, which requires the following:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Right now I'm reading Nelson Algren's novel Never Come Morning. (An interesting coincidence, given the fact that I once wrote a Page 69 essay for Marshall on Algren's The Man With the Golden Arm.) In doing this meme, I'm going to take a slight liberty. The last two of the "three sentences" are fragments - the first just an adjective and a noun, the second a proper name (which is followed by four more proper names and then another fragment). The speaker of this passage is reading from a list, and so Algren's structure is faithful to normal human speaking patterns (Algren had a great ear for human dialogue) rather than standard written-word conventions. Because stopping after the third "sentence" (which isn't really a sentence at all) wouldn't make much sense, I've continued on to present the entire "phrase."

Page 123 of Never Come Morning involves one of Algren's favorite settings, the police interrogation. (Despite the fact that Algren wasn't a crime writer per se, many of his stories include scenes in interrogation rooms, police lineups and jail cells.) The protagonist, Lefty Bicek, has been arrested after a botched holdup in which the victim was accidentally shot. The interrogator, Captain Tenczara, couldn't really care less about the victim, but has instead hauled Lefty in to try to get him to implicate himself in a murder which Lefty did indeed commit. Lefty tries to downplay the holdup and shooting, implying that the victim was only slightly wounded and was an old man who didn't really matter anyway. After stringing Lefty along for a while, the Captain bluntly utters the following, implying that the victim was killed and was also a family man:

"Bullet through the groin - zip," he added, his words coming flat and unempathetic, reading from the charge sheet without understanding. "Five children. Stella. Mary. Grosha. Wanda. Vincent. All underage."

But the cagey Lefty doesn't take the bait, and doesn't let this revelation shock him into confessing to the more serious crime. Blunt, simple and to the point - just like much of Algren's dialogue. Great stuff.

That said, I'm now tagging Ben, Nick, Jason, Brandon and Richard, plus the ever-lovely Julie. You've been memed!

April 23, 2008 in Books | Permalink


I'm going to make this a little interesting. Instead of telling you what I'm reading, I want to see if you or anyone else can guess it. Here goes:

"Well, what of it? I don't understand ..."

"Maybe Kitty refused him? ..."

Okay, that last sentence is a dead giveaway. Still, I offer a clue: the book was published in 1877, eight years after his previous book, and the author considered it his first novel.

Posted by: Brandon at Apr 25, 2008 5:11:56 PM