Saturday, May 9, 2015

"Some Other Town"

Elizabeth Collison grew up in the Midwest and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has worked as an editor, graphic artist, and technical writer.

Collison applied the Page 69 Test to Some Other Town, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Some Other Town, Margaret, the novel’s protagonist, discusses Joe Trout, a character in the gifted-and-talented series at the children’s educational publisher where she works. The page, or rather Margaret’s concern about Joe, is representative of the novel, as it centers on Joe’s loss of direction, which is Margaret’s issue as well.

Margaret is a former graduate student of art at the local university, a failed art star who has stayed in town long after graduation and now works as a low-level graphic artist. Lately, however, Margaret has wandered into more than just page design. Hired only to layout Joe’s pages, for months she has also been reading Joe’s text, “word by every overwrought word.”

And what she’s discovered is that Joe’s books are different from the publisher’s other programmed readers, texts based solely on tedious vowel-consonant progressions. As Margaret points out, the Joe Trout series, due in large part to Joe, amounts to more than just its phonetics:
Joe is good, even heroic company, well worth my morning reads. Joe’s heart is pure. He is hardworking, courageous, a good sport, and a tireless champion of nature. Moreover, or at least normally, he’s a seeker of beauty and truth along with, at times, paired vowels. Master of strategic “ou,” “ee,” and “ea,” he cleaves his streams on a quest—coming in, going out, turning about, seeking the unseekable Trout Route.
But then, near the bottom of page 69, Margaret realizes that something is off in Joe’s latest installment. Things are slipping with Joe. He is not his old driven self and has in fact lost the crucial Trout Route.

So the question is raised: What will become of Joe Trout and, by important extension, Margaret?
Visit Elizabeth Collison's website.

--Marshal Zeringue