‘What’s on Your Page 56?’

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

One of my friends recently started a thread on Facebook called “What’s on your page 56?” She offered this brief description:

Page 56 Rules:

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with the book and author. Yay.

I was reading Jenny 8. Lee’s “Fortune Cookie Chronicles” at the time, so I opened up to page 56 and wrote down the fifth sentence, which is actually rather disturbing: “The water in Hell’s Canyon in Oregon ran red with blood as more than thirty Chinese gold miners were killed and mutilated by a group of white men who had conspired to steal their gold and force the Chinese out.”

I love the serendipity of this activity. Here is a sampling of just a few of the passages people posted:

  • “‘That boy is not human,’ the wife told the doctor,” from “The Hak’awati” by Rabih Alameddine
  • “We are between just two connection points,” from “Brain Rules” by John Medina
  • “Everybody has nightmares,” from “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  • “To get to the truth, Luisa Santiaga told her mother that she would love to stay in Barranca and live there,” from “Living to Tell the Tale” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • “Virtually every male in America understands something about violence,” from “Guyland” by Michael Kimmel
  • “‘He’s dead,'” from “The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones” by Stanley Booth
  • “We always had something to exchange –books, articles, tapes, boxes of chocolates he received from Switzerland — for chocolates were expensive, especially ones from Switzerland” from “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi
  • “It would just be the corona of her cheeks pulsing to mouth, and my remembrance of her splendid eyes, like sitting in a box the lovely latest in France enters the crashing orchestra and I turn to Monsieur next to me, “She is splendide, non?” with Johnny Walker Scotch in my tuxedo coat pocket,” from “Tristessa” by Jack Kerouac

I don’t know the significance of the number 56, but I nevertheless like this sharing of book passages. It reminds me in some ways of found poetry, which I’ve always found interesting.

What does your page 56 say?