Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea"

Jonathan David Kranz maintains dual identities as a marketing copywriter and a fiction writer. His debut novel, Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea, launched in early June. He lives in Melrose, MA with his old lady and two young adult daughters.

Kranz applied the Page 69 Test to Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea and reported the following:
On page 69 of Our Brothers you’ll find:
The Christmas tree lay on its side at the foot of the basement stairs as if it had tripped on the way down and then died there from neglect. In fact, it hadn’t budged since the day in February when, in an unusual display of emotion, Mr. Waters had bear-hugged the tree and lifted it, stand and all, without regard for the strings of lights that remained plugged to the wall or the ornaments that scattered around his feet as he carried it to the basement door and heaved it angel-first into the gloom below.

“There,” he had said, presumably to Ethan’s mother although she had gone upstairs a half hour before, “the tree’s down. Happy?”

Now it was June, the edge of the first summer since Jason’s death, and Ethan stood at the top of the basement staircase, peering into the darkness, burning with indignation: he hadn’t thrown the tree down, but he was going to pick it up. His father had not been pleased when he learned that Ethan had found a job at The Sizzleator, found it without asking, without discussing it, without drawing upon Chuck Waters’ knowledge of, and contacts on, the boardwalk. “You just walked up and asked for a job, just like that?” Chuck had asked.

“Yeah,” Ethan had said. “More or less.”

“The rules have changed,” Chuck said. “At least out there.” That was when he got the idea that the basement really needed to be straightened up and Ethan would be the right man to do it.
By sheer good luck, page 69 happens to the beginning of a chapter, giving it a fortunate coherence. Is it representative of the rest of the novel? I like to think so. Here, we have a very familiar icon—a Christmas tree—applied in an unexpected way. At this point in the story, the tree’s ugly fate suggests dysfunction, one of the manifest ways grief has torn apart Ethan’s family. At other moments, other familiar things—shells, a journal, an empty bottle of Frangelico—fulfill unanticipated roles. If readers like finding a Christmas tree at the bottom of the basement stairs, they’ll probably enjoy the rest of the book.
Visit Jonathan David Kranz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue