Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Dogfight, A Love Story"

Matt Burgess, a graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Minnesota’s MFA program, grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Dogfight, A Love Story, his debut novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Dogfight, A Love Story, two of my characters are stuck at an intersection, waiting on foot for the light to turn in their favor. What follows is a relatively brief digression on those street corner pushbutton thingies that never work. The paragraph has nothing at all do with the plot; it’s just one of the many mini-riffs that made this book so much fun for me to write. Dogfight, A Love Story is aggressively plotted—there are stickups and dead bodies and double crossings and botched heists—but the novel also takes time to investigate things that I hope others find interesting, like the Mets/Yankees rivalry, the pleasures of unwrapping a Starburst, the story behind those little pushbutton thingies:
They stop at the intersection so that traffic may pass. It is Friday night and there are plenty of cars, Camrys and Civics and Corollas, yellow cabs and gypsy cabs, drunks returning home from the bars and clubs in Manhattan, drivers escorting escorts to johns, janitors and doormen and security guards coming off their shifts—all of them stream by while the light says go. Impatient, eager to get moving again, Alfredo hits the green button on the corner. He knows it won’t do anything. These buttons—To Cross Street, Push Button, Wait for Walk Signal—were all disconnected years ago when the Department of Transportation switched to computer-controlled traffic signals. The only reason they remain scattered on street corners throughout the outer boroughs is because it’d be too expensive to remove them all. Mayor Bloomberg and Giuliani before him and Dinkins before him and Koch before him, they all figured, Fuck it. So we’ve got some buttons in Queens that don’t work. They’ll act as placebos, as decoration. At the very least, they’ll fool the tourists. But Alfredo isn’t fooled. This is his home. He knows this push button doesn’t work, and yet … he pushes it anyway.

The light changes from Don’t Walk to Walk.

Nothing to get all excited about.
Read an excerpt from Dogfight, A Love Story, and learn more about the book and author at Matt Burgess' website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue