Monday, May 21, 2012

"A Partial History of Lost Causes"

Jennifer duBois was born in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1983. She earned a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Tufts University and an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where she is currently the Nancy Packer Lecturer in Continuing Studies. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Playboy, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, The Florida Review, The Northwest Review, Narrative, ZYZZYVA, FiveChapters and elsewhere.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, and reported the following:
Page 69 is an important page in A Partial History of Lost Causes—it concerns the moment when Aleksandr Bezetov, recently expelled from his chess academy for being too obnoxiously good at chess, first becomes involved with the samizdat dissident journal run by his friends Ivan and Nikolai. This isn’t quite as heroic as it sounds; on p. 69, Aleksandr is still young and adrift and pathologically passive, and the dissident journal fills the void in his days that the academy has left. Chess and politics are at odds throughout Aleksandr’s life, and he goes on to make serious ethical compromises to continue his career; his work for the samizdat movement marks the beginning, not the end, of a long and circuitous moral journey. But Aleksandr learns and sees things during his time in the movement that he never forgets. Those memories inform his values when he finally returns to opposition politics in the Putin era; that time around, his entry into politics is actually intentional—and, arguably, rather heroic.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Jennifer DuBois website.

--Marshal Zeringue