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Sentence Without End (Amen)

October 20, 1985

As I strove, ill-advisedly, and with increasing perplexity (not to mention irritation) to read William Frost's outlandishly verbose, very nearly incomprehensible review (Book Review, Oct. 6) (although "review" is only what it pretended to be; actually, it was a thinly disguised and rather poor imitation of a style the author evidently considered highly literary, and was obviously intended more to draw attention to his own (unfortunately meager) "poetic" writing skills than really to provide commentary) of Julia O'Faolain's novel "The Obedient Wife," which the reviewer seemed to admire (though not half so much as his own ability to sustain, artificially, sentences so long they became ridiculous, and finally, meaningless) I early on became distracted from the ostensible point of the article and instead became preoccupied with the writer's inordinate use of parentheses (indeed, I counted 11 parenthetical remarks) in that--blessedly, short (though not short enough!)--article, and even found parentheses within parentheses, dashes, ellipses and italics, and arrived, at last, exhausted and uncharacteristically truculent, at only one question:

What was that article like before you edited it?

The mind boggles.

ELLIE HERMAN

Los Angeles

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