Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Page 69: The Truth About the Moon and the Stars

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

We put Brian Jacobson's The Truth About the Moon and the Stars to the test!

OK, Brian, set up page 69 for us.

Page 69 features the story’s eighteen-year-old protagonist, Shane, getting dressed up to break into his ex-friend’s family home. His mission is to retrieve a beloved prank call CD from his youth, The Ball Busters II-No Hang Ups. It is lost on Shane that he is cultivating the look of a Halloween burglar costume.

What is The Truth About the Moon and the Stars about:

 I’d say The Truth About the Moon and the Stars is about arrested development and haphazard, unintended occult initiation. Shane is a high school dropout who lives alone in the house of his recently deceased parents. While his peers are graduating high school and getting ready to head off to college, Shane spends his time engaging in anti-social hobbies like Chinese buffet brawls, Beanie Baby Heists and endless hours of prank calls. These activities lead Shane to discover a mysterious senior citizen, George. As Shane’s obsession with George grows, he finds himself hurled down a phantasmagorical rabbit hole that he isn’t prepared for.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the novel is about? Does it align itself the novel’s theme?

It absolutely aligns itself with the theme of arrested development.  This page is a nice little snapshot of Shane at the beginning of the story. It gives the reader a glimpse into his obsessiveness, his proclivity toward transgressive situations, and his lack of self-awareness.



In the living room, Boyz II Men are singing “Motown Philly” on BET. As Boyz II Men demonstrate their Philly street style—pastel button-down shirts, matching khaki short outfits, matching bowtie outfits, cheesesteaks, lip-synching in front of a giant birthday cake, synchronized dance moves with canes—it occurs to me that David’s house might be empty right now. The fun, out-on-the-town vibe of the video jolts a memory; David’s parents used to go out religiously on Saturday nights. They probably still do. David and his sister are probably out as well. They both have lots of friends and it’s the last month of high school. I can’t believe that such a basic detail didn’t occur to me during any of my recent brainstorming sessions.

I call his house, hoping nobody will answer. Jackpot! I still don’t have a concrete plan, but if the house is truly empty, I won’t really need one.

I leave the TV on, wander upstairs to change. “Motown Philly” floats up to my bedroom as I sift through my closet for a black sweatshirt, black jeans, and a ski mask. Back-to-back Boyz II Men continues to serenade me as I slip into my chosen evening attire.

All dressed, I laugh at the masked man in the mirror. I fish through the closet for a crowbar while reminiscing about my favorite Ballbusters calls. There was the impatient deaf guy doing a survey. How can I forget the saucy rich prick who harassed a Rolls Royce dealership? I look myself over once more and decide that I’m ready to head downstairs.

Boyz II Men grow louder as I slide down the banister. I try to remember how far away David’s house is as I grab the keys. Should take about five minutes this time of night.


Brian Jacobson was born in 1981 and raised outside of Boston. He is a graduate of Emerson College and lives in Portland, Oregon. The Truth About the Moon and the Stars is his first novel.

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