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That's Not a Feeling Paperback – October 2, 2012
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New York Times Editors’ Choice
Booklist Editors’ Choice
"Dan Josefson is a writer of astounding promise and That's Not a Feeling is a bold, funny, mordant, and deeply intelligent debut."
—David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest
"If That's Not a Feeling were a fifth novel, it would be a triumph. As a first novel, it is an astonishment. Dan Josefson sails along the scary edge of perfection in this book, and does so with style, empathy, compassion, humor, and wisdom."
—Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things
“Deft, tempered prose...unornamented, but never flat or blunted, so that the characters, not the sentences, heat the pages.”
—New York Times Book Review
—Los Angeles Review of Books
“The prose is matter-of-fact, even placid, and studded with perfectly phrased
gems, a cool surface to a work that is rich in feeling. A wonderful and noteworthy debut.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“Funny at times, and more than a little sad, the book’s form perfectly mirrors Benjamin’s profound sense of dislocation and uncertainty. This is a powerful, haunting look at the alternate universe of an unusual therapeutic community.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
“Metaphor is a hell of a weapon in Dan Josefson's debut That's Not a Feeling...a funny, humane, egalitarian, and gently challenging book, one to quote and roar over, and one that gets better and stranger as it goes.”
—SF Weekly, "Instant Classic"
"This is a book of enormous intelligence, and even more heart."
—Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway
“An incredibly daring experiment in characterization, and one that will surely reward many rereadings.”
—School Library Journal, "Adult Books for Teens"
“It’s difficult to read this novel and not feel challenged, moved, devastated, and excited for Josefson’s next book.”
“Not only is this novel a humorous narrative adventure, it’s also deeply moving, subtle in its approach, and beautiful in its execution.... A vivid portrait of human frailty and perseverance, one that makes us question what breaks us, what heals us, and what makes that journey worth it.”
—Tethered by Letters
Top Customer Reviews
But there were enough similarities that Dan Josefson's portrayal not only rang true, but packed a wallop. My school too was a rarefied, nearly incestuous environment that, despite being in a major city and affiliated with a major university, was oddly isolated from the outside world. I too was one of those staff barely older/more mature (and definitely less streetwise) than many of the students I worked with. I too struggled to understand and implement the therapeutic "process" and be part of the daily therapeutic "milieu". And I too saw the pathos and tragedy that ensue when so many severely damaged kids are isolated with only each other and staff with their own issues. I often found myself wondering if Josefson's portrayal of Benjamin were perhaps autobiographical - how else could he paint such an unbelievable, yet utterly accurate, picture of such a place?
Not only does Josefson's novel work on a psychological level, it works on a literary level. Our narrator, Benjamin, is the ultimate unreliable narrator. His story is ostensibly a first person narrative, but it shifts frequently to a third person omniscient point of view, including many events, conversations and even thoughts, feelings and dreams, which Benjamin could not possibly know.Read more ›
WEEPING IN THE PLAYTIME OF OTHERS: AMERICAS INCARCERATED CHILDREN, 2ND EDIT
Dan Josefson has created a dystopian school amid the traditional world of private schools. "That's Not a Feeling" takes place at Roaring Orchards, a boarding school for troubled kids. In an otherwise idyllic setting, Roaring Orchards, the school, is purgatory.
There is no real curriculum. There is no real adult around. The students are put into levels and different punishments on a whim. The cast of characters is wide, each with a highly unusual, negative trait.
The main character, Benjamin, was tricked into coming to the school on what he thought was a visit. Then his parents disappear, and he's stuck. He befriends Tidbit, a girl who seems to understand his own sense of disillusionment with the world and can play the words right into a teacher's face with a straight expression.
Although this is kind of a black comedy, with the various character names (Pudding for one) and constant teasing and psychobabble, Josefson looks closely at the use of drug therapies and self-esteem building programs that aren't working.
Truly, this is a book that lays it out plainly but in a comic way: don't mess with other people's brains and quit trying to get them to indulge in telling their secrets to strangers.
Sounds interesting, right? Boarding school? Troubled teens? Crazy adults? An almost cultish leader whose ideas nobody can quite seem to grasp?
Sadly, the book falls flat. Very flat. The narrator's own story is very incomplete. We never understand why Benjamin was put away at this school. No one seems to make any progress. You will find them in the same state at the beginning of the book as the end. There is a traumatic event that unfolds 3/4 way through the book and still there is no character development. The narrator even refers to his return to the school as an adult, and yet no reason is ever given for his pilgrimage back to this place that must have affected him deeply.
I can't help but think that we got the boring pieces of this story. All the ones that sat right on the surface. Student A did this. Teacher B did that. I wish the author had dug down a little deeper to tell us not just what happened, but what it felt like.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
That's Not A Feeling is the best book I have read in a very long time. It is brilliant and funny and bitingly relevant to anyone who has ever been or ever intends to be a teenager... Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Book Hobbit
When Benjamin gets dumped at a correctional school in upstate New York, he probably didn't think things would end up quite like this. Read morePublished on October 1, 2013 by vodkasauce
When Benjamin's parents take him for a tour of Roaring Orchards Alternative School, which is close to the fictional town of Webituck, New York, and then disappear, we quickly learn... Read morePublished on April 6, 2013 by PT Cruiser
"That's Not a Feeling" started off promising, but I lost interest about two-thirds of the way through and eventually gave up on it. Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by Maya
This is a difficult review to write, because this is a difficult novel to describe. Set in Roaring Orchards, a residential group home for wayward teens, it's narrated by... Read morePublished on December 29, 2012 by Live2Cruise
"That's Not a Feeling" has been one of the best reads of 2012 for me. Mind you, it was not an easy novel for me to get into. Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by Z Hayes
Benjamin thought he was going for a tour of a private "therapeutic boarding school" (psychiatric facility for teens) in upstate New York but instead his parents dropped him off,... Read morePublished on December 27, 2012 by ChristineMM
That's Not a Feeling is a great, if misleading novel. It captures, credibly and eloquently, life in a cultish preparatory school for troubled youth. Read morePublished on December 19, 2012 by lanzera11
Sixteen year old Benjamin is a twice failed suicide. His parents leave him at "The Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens" a boarding school in upstate New York. Read morePublished on December 13, 2012 by E. B. MULLIGAN