Friday, September 13, 2013

"At the Bottom of Everything"

Ben Dolnick is the author of three novels: Zoology, You Know Who You Are, and the newly released At the Bottom of Everything. His writing has appeared in the New York Times and on NPR.

Dolnick applied the Page 69 Test to At the Bottom of Everything and reported the following:
Page 69 of my book comes right at a point where to give too much context would spoil the plot. So, I'll just say that the narrator, Adam, is recalling a particularly difficult experience he had about a decade before, when he was a teenager:
The worst of my suffering in those next few days -- which felt like being poisoned, a freezing empty charge moving through me -- came over me maybe once an hour, whether I was awake or asleep, helping to stack the nap mats at work or standing in the corner of my bedroom talking to Thomas on the phone. Each time I'd think: I can't tolerate it, I'm going insane. This must be why people turn themselves in for things. But then it would... not pass, exactly, but slip back into some more inner part of my nervous system, leaving me sore and shaken, and I'd think, OK, I'll survive, it won't ever feel that bad again, and I'd try to more or less go about my life until it happened again.
The question of sanity -- what it feels like to go insane, the ways in which peoples' minds torment and trick them -- is a fairly important one throughout the book. Adam, the narrator, is ostensibly sane (he goes to India to see if he can rescue a friend who's gone off the rails), but as you can see in this passage, sanity can be a fairly tenuous thing.
Learn more about the book and author at Ben Dolnick's website.

Writers Read: Ben Dolnick.

--Marshal Zeringue