The Test of 69

I read “How to Read A Novel” by John Sutherland recently, hoping for some insight into literary studies. While I learned a little, this book is obviously geared toward young adults and people who aren’t already inclined in the field. It’s entry-level stuff for the most part… still a good read though.

What stood out to me specifically was what [I believe] Sutherland penned as “The 69 Test.” The way it works is: you pick up the novel you are considering and flip through the pages. When you get to page 69, read it. Read the whole page without stopping. Then, if you liked what you read, the odds that you will like the book are extremely high. It has to do with psychology, storytelling, blahblahblah, there are quite a few factors (which Sutherland discusses a little as well), but the bottom line is, page 69 is purported to be the page of revelry. I’ve gone into a bit of research with this and though I haven’t done this test personally, I’ve read excerpts from page 69 of a lot of books. There are tons of great snippits there. It inspired me to check what my page 69 looked like and if it seemed to follow the same apparent trend. I haven’t edited this page yet but… I’m not waiting to try this test out.

Without further ado, here is the coveted page. If you like this page, you should buy this book. If you don’t… buy it anyway 😛


I could see his face sharper and clearer than I expected for a man hiding behind a shroud. It was as if I had a flashlight on him. He was rather young, a pale-skinned blonde with bright green eyes and his slim, smooth figure suggested he could never grown any facial hair.

“Forced by whom?”

“Alltech, Agent Del. Tomorrow.”

He turned to leave but Doug stopped him quite aggressively. “Not another fucking step! You know something, you’re coming with us.”  He pulled his cuffs out of their pouch and handed them to me.  I felt a tugging in the back of my brain, something telling me to get away from the scene, not to arrest Dumont. But, it’s hard to override your training. My body and subconscious knew the right thing to do, the only thing to do. In this kind of situation, you arrest the guy.

Dumont stopped and kept his hands in the air. We both kept our weapons trained on Dumont as I crept towards him. I crouched a little and approached him with a quiet and cautious walk, just in case he tried anything. When I got to him, I slowly holstered my gun and reached for his right hand. Just before I applied the cuffs, there was a loud hard boom and Doug screamed out then hit the ground hard, as did his cigarette. People around screamed and ran. Some hid behind dumpsters; others just ran until they were well out of sight.


 Another shot rang out. I heard the projectile fly past my head and through a nearby window. I leapt through air, diving behind the closest building and drew my gun out. I pointed it out around the corner and peeked my head around as subtly as possible. I popped off five or seven rounds to keep the shooter from firing at Doug again. Dumont already began making his retreat and I couldn’t stop him. I didn’t particularly want to at this point. The area was pretty empty anyway.  Scanning nearby windows and other vantage points for the type of rifle which could generate that sound proved fruitless.  There was no sign of the shooter. I suspected whomever it was only opened fired to keep Dumont out of our custody. The shooting was over, so I ran to Doug and checked him.

“Shit Doug! You’d better be alive!”

“I’m… I’m fine. Goddamnit.” He coughed out, clutching his throat. “That fuckin’ hurt. Check… ugh… It landed over there.” He pointed just a few feet away and I saw a .45 caliber slug – a rubber composite bullet. This kind of bullet is not meant to kill, though that was of little solace. Whoever it was either guarded Dumont to keep him safe or to keep him quiet. It seemed lucky that bullet wasn’t real. It might have just been for us. There may well have been a bullet meant for Dumont. I collected Doug, slinging his right arm over my shoulder and picked him up. Rubber bullets don’t really cripple you. Sometimes they break a rib from close enough but, in general they are used to make you think twice about whatever you’re about to do. A well placed rubber bullet can prevent a firefight from breaking out.

So? What does page 69 tell you?


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