Saturday, April 6, 2013

"OCD, the Dude, and Me"

Lauren Roedy Vaughn is an award-winning educator who has spent twenty years teaching English to high school students with language-based learning disabilities. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, where she is an avid yogini and Big Lebowski nut.

Vaughn applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, OCD, The Dude, and Me, and reported the following:
An excerpt from Danielle Levine’s English essay entitled “Something Beautiful”…which resides on page 69:
“My father told me about this news story that happened a while ago to the Amish people. He is very in to sharing poignant information with me. He said this deranged man wandered into a schoolhouse in the Amish community and killed all these young girls. (This is NOT the beautiful part.)

My father told me that in a follow-up story in the news, we all got to learn how this community publicly forgave the man who did this to all those girls, who took all those girls from their families, who cut their lives so short. At first, I was mad at my dad for telling me this story even though he told me ‘knowledge is power,’ and we must be open to hearing about difficult topics so we can grow. My point was: How could those people forgive that man? How could they forget about those girls like that? My father said forgiveness does not entail forgetting about the people who are lost, but at the moment I was in no condition to process his point.”
On page 69 of my novel, therein lies an important theme: forgiveness. However, before I get into that, I can’t help but reflect on the number 69. I’m a middle-aged woman, but I’m not entirely na├»ve. I know my former high school students will smile that this blog focuses on page 69 of novels. I hear their snickers. More significantly, if you merge the two numbers, the 6 and the 9, the yin-yang symbol appears. That’s what I really love about this blog. The yin-yang: the symbol of the joining of opposites, the acknowledgement that all in this world exists in paradox. This blog is one such example—attempting to find significant meaning about an entire novel from just one page. It is possible. (Read the rest of the posts.) More broadly, within the messy paradox of living in a mortal world, one of the greatest gifts we have to give one another (aside from our love) is our forgiveness. OCD, The Dude, and Me is told through Danielle Levine’s senior year essays, emails, journals etc. The essay on page 69, assigned by her English teacher, is entitled “Something Beautiful.” And, in case you haven’t had enough of paradox: Danielle writes about a horrific situation that gives rise to something beautiful: forgiveness.
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Roedy Vaughn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue