Sunday, October 21, 2007

The McLuhan Test

Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works. Rule One, then: browse powerfully and read page 69.

The above is an extract from John Sutherland's How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide. I tested it on several books in my TBR pile. As a result of this, I have decided to toss out Derailed by James Siegel. Here's why by taking a look at the extract from the said novel which happens to be the last page of Chapter Nine.

... of his nose. Watching as the man laid Lucinda onto the floor as if they were engaged in some eerie kind of dance, some modern pas de deux, laying her down and standing over her. As he pulled her skirt up above her waist. As he snorted and wolf whistled and slowly, slowly pulled her black lace panties down to her knees. As he unzipped his pants.

It gets sicker after that. I continued reading a little further down and that's it. Into the bin it goes. There are many other reading materials and I don't have to fill my brain with this junk. I'm disturbed by what happened in the story and I don't like what I read.

For that I thank you, Professor John Sutherland for highlighting the McLuhan test. As crazy as this may sound, I am applying this technique in addition to the ones I'm already employing while browsing, particularly on authors I am not familiar with. Maybe I'm not a fan of hardcore thriller.