Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"The Degenerates"

J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her recent work of historical fiction about the early life of Margaret Sanger is What Every Girl Should Know. Born in New Jersey, Mann now lives in Boston with her children, cat, and husband listed in order of affection.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Degenerates, and reported the following:
In 1928, the U.S. government, using the false science of eugenics was busy incarcerating Americans with disabilities for nothing more than having a disability. All were given life sentences.

On page 69 of The Degenerates, one of the main characters, fourteen-year-old London is being dragged back to the institution after an escape attempt. This time, the School for Idiotic and Feebleminded Youth (first established in South Boston) is not playing around, and they take her to what the inmates termed “the cages.”
Leaving the nurse at the door, the two women led London down a series of hallways. This building was darker and dirtier than the one she’d been in the night before with the girls. It also smelled worse. London had lived in enough tenements to be overly familiar with the stench. Piss and shit. The group passed rooms that looked uninhabitable, but from the coughs, moans, and shuffling sounds emanating from them, it was clear that they had occupants.
Always an interesting test, I’d say this page is not necessarily representative of the book, but a great representation of the institution this young woman (and thousands like her) endured.
Visit J. Albert Mann's website.

Writers Read: J. Albert Mann.

--Marshal Zeringue