Wednesday, April 8, 2020

"The Astonishing Life of August March"

Aaron Jackson is a writer and comedian. With Josh Sharp, he optioned and adapted a screenplay of their stage musical Fucking Identical Twins which is currently in development with Chernin Entertainment. He was recently a cast member on Comedy Central's The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, and has also appeared on Broad City, The Detour, Crashing, The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and Funny or Die’s Jared and Ivanka, a series he also cowrote. He lives in New York City.

Jackson applied the Page 69 Test to The Astonishing Life of August March, his first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of my book is a scene between the main character August and his surrogate father Sir Reginald Percyfoot. August, who was born and raised in the Scarsenguard theatre in a midcentury New York City, has recently experienced a major change in his life, and the pair are trying to decide what to do about August's tenuous living situation:
August surprised Percyfoot yet again by agreeing he should leave the Scarsenguard. "But where am I to go?" he asked.

Truthfully, Sir Reginald could think of no better place for the boy. To send him into the care of the government would be criminal. There was no doubt that August's upbringing had been unconventional, but it had been genteel and pampered in its way. Throw him into a state-owned orphanage with boys who'd been shuttled in and out of foster care for the entirety of their lives, and the poor lad would get eaten alive.

August mumbled something.

"What was that, child? Speak up. We didn't spend hours on your vocal exercises to have you stammering like a simpleton."

"I said, could I come live with you?"

Sir Reginald inhaled sharply. Here was a dilemma.
The Page 69 test is interesting because on one hand, the book's central theme is August's search for place and belonging. However, this is a quirky comic novel full of jokes and big characters. For example, just three pages later, August bursts from a sarcophagus (a prop leftover from a play called Lust in Luxor) pretending to be a ghost (which makes sense in context). Page 69 is a scene where the pace slows down and we sit with two of the main characters. Sir Reginald struggles with the balance of his career and the obligation he has to this child, while August deals with his listlessness and confusion. I would say, overall, page 69 is not an accurate read for the book as a whole while still giving reader's a glimpse into the central character's main inner conflict.
Follow Aaron Jackson on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue