Kottke reports that Marshall McCluhan’s advice for book buyers was to read page 69. “If you like that page, buy the book.”
Here’s page 69 of my memoir Small Journeys:
â€œWell, Mom says we can only drink water between meals. Milk is too expensive.â€
â€œCanâ€™t you ask her for milk? You could tell her I donâ€™t like water.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t we just get a glass of water.â€
We rumbled into the kitchen, and I boosted myself onto the counter to get two water glasses. As I was filling my glass, Mom came into the room. â€œMichael, would you like some milk?â€
My jaw dropped to the floor as I watched Mom pour my friend an enormous glass of cool milk. I was so surprised, I didnâ€™t even think to ask for my own glass.
â€œOkay, I think we can remove the mouth dam now. Leon, can you get a spit cup?â€
I finally let my arms relax as they peeled the rubber covering from my face and snipped it away from my teeth. My mouth was slack, and I was able to get even less of the bloody saliva into the cup. Leon wiped the spit off of my face, then told me I could go.
As I walked woozily back towards the waiting room, I could hear the dentist talking to Cynthia. â€œCongratulations, Cynthia, youâ€™ve just filled your first tooth. Donâ€™t worry about the mistakes–thatâ€™s what youâ€™re here for. You wouldnâ€™t want to put a paying customer through all that.â€
â€œDavid, how are you?â€ Mom gently brushed the sweat-soaked hair away from my temples. â€œThat took an awful long time. What were they doing in there?â€
â€œThey put me on nitrous oxide. I donâ€™t like that stuff–it smells like cough syrup.â€
That’s not bad. The chapter is about a horrific trip to the free dental clinic, juxtaposed with a few key anecdotes from my childhood. It was about being poor. Does it make you want to read more?