Thursday, June 27, 2013


Tara Ison is the author of the novels The List, A Child out of Alcatraz, a Finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Rockaway, as well as the short story collection Ball.

Ison applied the Page 69 Test to Rockaway and reported the following:
From Page 69:
"Yeah,” he said, sheepish but pleased. “My Jim Croce era. Wow. This thing is over thirty years old.”

“Are you going to buy it?”

“I’ve got it,” he said. “I got it at home, I’ll show you. I’ll play it for you. The sound quality, it’s different. You probably never heard the real thing.” The album’s cardboard shine was mottled, its corner tips worn gray and furred. He read the liner notes, nodding.

She was nonplussed by the old, young, exposed image of him. “It’s sort of a relief,” she said finally. He looked at her quizzically. “It’s proof you are who you say you are,” she said.

“Yeah.” Then he regarded her a moment, baffled.

“Aren’t you?”


“So, wait , are you sleeping with him?” her friend Emily asked on the phone.

“No. I don’t even peck him good night on the cheek. He’s never once touched me.” She felt vaguely embarrassed, not knowing how to explain this . . . relationship? She doesn’t even know what to call it. “Which is totally fine, by the way. My head isn’t even in that space. I’m completely focused on work. That’s the whole reason I’m here.”
Amazing, how this section captures one of the book's central themes - identity, and the shifting/reforming/questioning of identity over time, and the struggle for authenticity....

Sarah's life is in chaos; she's lost and drifting (internal demons, life at crossroads, in denial about her choices, etc.), and has exiled herself for a deliberately-solitary summer to a beach house in Rockaway, NY - ostensibly to do some painting, but she has instead stumbled into some kind of relationship with an older, once semi-famous musician. The guy has her flummoxed - is he a mentor? a potential lover? someone to be trusted, or not? What is she doing with this guy? They are walking through Greenwich Village, and the guy has found an old record album of his, which prompts the conversation.

The summer/novel - and this increasingly odd relationship - is ultimately about Sarah learning who she actually "is" - or, at least learning to articulate, or "hear," the question for the first time in her life. What is "the real thing," in relation to who we are, vs. who we think we are, or should be?
Visit Tara Ison's website.

Ison is also the author of the novels The List, A Child out of Alcatraz, a Finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the short story collection Ball.

The Page 69 Test: The List.

My Book, The Movie: Rockaway.

--Marshal Zeringue