Friday, October 21, 2022

Page 69: Josh Dale's The Light to Never Be Snuffed

 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  Josh Dale's The Light to Never Be Snuffed to the test

OK, Josh, set up page 69 for us.

First of all, nice. Wanted to get that out of the way.

So, yeah, page 69 is actually a strong point in both the plot and character arc of Jack Grand, the protagonist & narrator. 

It’s the first day of 3rd grade, the first time ever in a grade school classroom, he gets humiliated in front of the class…and he gets into a fight with another boy. 

It’s crude, a bit bloody, and sets up Jack for a scolding immediately after. 

Jack says a bad word right at the end of page 68, so you got lucky.



What The Light to Never Be Snuffed is about:

 This novella is about a broken family on the cusp of divorce and foreclosure. All told through the eyes of a battered, and plausibly mentally unwell, young boy. There are hallucinations, Pokémon, imaginary friends, and some shocking moments.

 Oh, and monstrous ants that are not just part of his imagination. Cannot leave out the ants.



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

 Oh, absolutely. Just when you think Jack is on the up-and-up, he plummets back down to earth. Jack ingests toxic ‘advice’ from Ron, his father, about what it means to be a man. This time, though, Jack makes the choice to lash out in anger.

This scene alludes to the theory that Jack is antisocial and does not do well under duress. He doesn’t see his peers as prey per se, but he just snaps and throws any restraint to the wind. A seed is planted earlier when Jack relates his dad to a ‘fire demon’ and given that he is the son of, he embodies this persona for the first time. He does all this after trying to woo a girl named Kelly. A page out of Ron’s Manly Manifesto…talk about a backfire!

 It calms down after this moment, but the 4th quarter of this novella is the craziest yet. Enjoy the breather while you can.



Page 69

The Light to Never Be Snuffed


The class gasped as I rushed him. Wailed my arms any which way they could. Skin hit skin. Bone hit bone. I transformed into the son of the fire demon. Devon hit me back in my chest. It hurt but I was enraged. We toppled to the ground.


Ms. Rochelle pulled me off Devon. I was not like my dad yet. I was contained. Some other students covered their eyes. But not Kelly. She stared at me, the only one that didn’t laugh. She looked like a ghost appeared and scared her forever.


“Mister, you’re in deep doo-doo,” Ms. Rochelle said, pulling me behind the desk.


Soon, the principal was at the door. A bald, pudgy man, His shirt was tight. His face got red like my dad’s. Ms. Rochelle cast me off to his spaghetti arms. Devon whimpered on the ground. Red splotches stained the new floor. A tiny tooth, too.


“Call the nurse for Devon,” he said. With my hat in his other hand, he pulled me toward the door. “With me, Mr. Grand.”


My hands felt like a lump of berries. Inside his muggy office, there was a small fan blowing onto his sweating head. (…)


Josh Dale does well with cats, plants, and coffee. A native Pennsylvanian, he’s an alumnus of Temple & Saint Joseph’s. His debut novella, The Light to Never Be Snuffed (Alien Buddha Press, 2022) was released in front of a crowd of ants. His fiction has appeared in Breadcrumbs, Autofocus, Drunk Monkeys, Maudlin House, Rejection Letters, and a winner in the 2021 Loud Coffee Press Micro-Fiction Contest. More on his site:

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