Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Light Fell"

Evan Fallenberg is an instructor in the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the translator of works by, among others, Meir Shalev, Alon Hilu, Ron Leshem, and Batya Gur.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Light Fell, and reported the following:
It is 1976 and page 69 of Light Fell finds the protagonist, Joseph Licht, about to escape his Israeli life for a year by accepting a sabbatical in the US. The man for whom he left his marriage, his children and his religious lifestyle – Orthodox rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig – is no longer alive, and Joseph, feeling estranged from his five young sons as well, is eager to depart. Shortly before he leaves he invites the boys to the beach for a picnic, which is where the reader finds them all on page 69.

This is a pivotal year for Joseph and for the story as well. His plan backfires and the children grow more and more distant, so that after a year away Joseph begins to doubt 'ever really having been a father.' Worse yet, he seems to forget 'what it was to love, or be loved.' He will only rediscover what he has lost when his sons gather, twenty years later, for a reunion.

From page 69 of Light Fell:

There was no way for Joseph to describe that day to himself other than perfect. The sea was calm and warm and the boys were free to romp and push and splash. Only here, at the beach, could their noise and wild antics seem small and self-contained. He ventured out into deeper water with Daniel and Ethan and Noam, sat on the shore with the twins digging holes that flooded over again and again, leaving slick and shiny sand they loved to sink their feet into. Daniel led a campaign to bury Joseph under a mountain of dry sand but the digging wore them out and in the end they decided to bury only his legs. They took a walk to collect the shiniest, most colorful shells and sea glass in cloudy shades of green and gold.

At the end of the afternoon they sat in a huddle wrapped in towels and watched the blood-red sun inch its way closer to the horizon like a pomegranate too heavy for the branch. Joseph pointed out to sea. "That's where I'm going," he told them. "If you sail straight ahead, all the way to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea and then across the entire Atlantic Ocean, you'll find me there."

Noam squinted, looking for land. The twins, for once subdued, stared straight out to sea, looking at nothing. Ethan asked, "Can we visit you there, Daddy?" Daniel looked up to catch Joseph's answer.
Read an excerpt from Light Fell and learn more about the author and his work at Evan Fallenberg's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue