Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Piece of Mind"

Michelle Adelman has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and BS and MS degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University. She has worked as a magazine writer and editor, a university instructor, and a high school English teacher and dean. She grew up in Connecticut and has lived in New York, San Diego, and the Bay Area, where she currently resides.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Piece of Mind, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my novel, Lucy, the protagonist, contemplates some of the primary questions she revisits throughout the book. The most pressing issue revolves around the idea of her finding and keeping a potential job. Beyond the practical challenges she faces when contemplating this idea (since she has a brain injury that puts a crippling dent in her ability to carry out simple executive functions), she must also consider the limits a job would place on her ability to obtain disability checks.

On this page, Lucy’s recollection of an earlier and often repeated conversation with her father is an echo of one of the first scenes of the book and serves as a reminder of the dysfunctional, yet co-dependent ways they enable each other.
“Then why do you care about me working?” I asked once.

“Why do I care?” he said. “Why don’t you care?”

“For Dad, it wasn’t about money. It was about normalcy…it was also about purpose.”
The conversation demonstrates the push-pull in their relationship. The frustration Lucy feels when she hears her father talking “in fantasies” is coupled with her desire to depend on him as an unconditional source of support.

On an even more fundamental level, this page gets to the central core of the question: What does Lucy really want?

“The problem was I hadn’t figured out what my fantasy was, and in the meantime, we hadn’t determined a realistic alternative.”

At this stage of the book, Lucy is confronting that basic question of desire in a real way for perhaps the first time, and it’s both terrifying and frustrating not to have an immediate answer. Her journey throughout the rest of the novel is in many ways an attempt to seek a viable answer to that very question.
Visit Michelle Adelman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Piece of Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue