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About Dad and the Dead

December 27, 1987

Just a couple of items after reading Stewart Lindh's very strange review of my book of stories, "Wearing Dad's Head" (The Book Review, Nov. 1).

1) Did Lindh confuse me with another writer--say, Nietzsche? In the length and breadth of his review, there is not one single indication, hint or suggestion--not the merest whisper of an intimation--that "Wearing Dad's Head" is a funny book.

This is quite simply astonishing! I am a comic writer--"Wearing Dad's Head" is a very funny book. (Susan Cheever, for example, very graciously called the book "thoroughly hilarious" in a jacket quote.)

2) More particularly, Lindh manufacturers a great how-d'you-do about my book and "dead parents." "Thirty-nine of the stories," he declares at one point, "involve the narrator and his dead mother and father."

This is simply not true. There are 43 stories (I went back and counted) in "Wearing Dad's Head" involving the narrator and his mother and father. In exactly eight, the parents are deceased. They're ghosts. In the remaining 35 of these familial stories, the parents are palpably and incontrovertibly alive.

"Wearing Dad's Head" is not about "dead" parents. It's about "parents."

My own parents are deceased, and my book does have to do, in part, with my responses to their deaths and the emotional aftermaths. But perhaps, because I also happen to have been born in South Africa, Lindh would like to claim that my book is written in Zulu.

(But it isn't. It's written in English.)


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