Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"That's Not a Feeling"

Dan Josefson has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and lives in Brooklyn. He has received a Fulbright research grant and a Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters.

He applied the Page 69 Test to That’s Not a Feeling, his first novel, and reported the following:
I was happy, flipping through my novel, to discover that page 69 is the beginning of a new chapter. And while there are questions that a reader beginning there would be sure to ask (What was the Incident that landed Ellie and her boys in jail?), I think this page represents the book nicely.

To fill you in, Ellie is a Dorm Parent at the Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens, and has been taken to the police station for tackling a student who was trying to run away. I think the figurative language here is pretty representative, such as Ellie marching out of the Mansion blind as a fist. And I like how this ends: with Ellie charged, and suddenly in awe of her accuser. My book’s title, That’s Not a Feeling, is a phrase the school’s faculty members often repeat to the students. But I like that it can also refer to emotions that surprise and overwhelm us, for example the one Ellie experiences here—impressions for which we have no name.

Page 69:
Ellie found herself wandering around the campus, walking faster and faster. The Incident Report, she saw, was still in her hand. Shaking her head, she marched to the Office and dropped off the form. It sailed into the tray marked INCIDENT REPORTS, immense and anonymous. She hated this place. God, if she had left the school last night, she thought. But she hadn’t. Ellie marched out of the Mansion, blind as a fist.

At the police station they had separated her from the boys, whom they had put into two cells while they figured out who everyone was and called the probation officers of the boys who had them. Ellie was interviewed in a room close enough to hear the boys goofing. The officer taking her statement had paused to listen to Pudding yelling that he was going to make Carlos his bitch, was going to trade him to Zach for a pack of cigarettes. Ellie had stared at her hands, and then, like an idiot, she laughed. Another officer sat in the back of the room, but he didn’t say anything the whole time. The officer who interviewed her, Officer Sotelo, had long gray hair she wore piled on the top of her head. She had seemed disinterested and cold, but when she told Ellie that they were charging her with assault and reckless endangerment, the policewoman had suddenly glowed with elegance and wisdom.
Learn more about the book and author at Dan Josefson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue