Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stona Fitch's "Senseless"

Stona Fitch is a novelist living in Concord, Massachusetts, where he also directs Gaining Ground, a non-profit organic farm. He is a former crime reporter and musician with the seminal Boston underground band Scruffy the Cat.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his novel Senseless, which will be released as a feature film in 2007 by Scottish director Simon Hynd, and reported the following:
On Page 99, anti-globalization extremists torture Eliott Gast, an American economist, in a white room near Antwerp, Belgium. One of his captors, nicknamed Blackbeard, removes Gast’s wedding ring and swallows it, claiming to like the taste of American gold. The captors scrape Gast’s hand with a cheese grater and apply biopolymer to deaden his sense of touch. The acrid smell triggers Gast’s memory of building model bombers as a boy. And the whole procedure is broadcast live on the Internet to raise money for the extremists’ poorly defined (and possibly non-existent) cause.

Compact and very disturbing, Page 99 says a great deal about Senseless, a short novel laced with equal parts horrific violence and lush memories of sensory pleasures. This uneasy mix makes some readers throw the novel across the room. Others read it in one sitting. Few look at the household items that are used for torture — the cheese grater, an iron, a coffee spoon — in quite the same way.

I wrote Senseless during the sweltering summer of 1999, deep in thrall to an authorial fever dream — long before September 11th, the ascent of amoralists, online beheadings, and reality television. The book persists, unsettling and resonating, as American appetites and economics continue to do damage on various fronts.
Visit Stona Fitch's website to learn more about Senseless.

--Marshal Zeringue