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Life and Deaf Experiments

January 10, 1988

Hannah Sampson should take another look at "Experiments With Life and Deaf," by Chuck Rosenthal (The Book Review, Dec. 27). It is truly one of the funniest, smartest and sexiest books I've read in years. Sampson not only fails to read the book carefully (the conclusion is anything but "without preparation"; read the chapter "The Marriage of heaven and Hell"), but fails to notice the life and energy of Rosenthal's sentences, the depth of characterization (she writes that he "never lets us know them"), the depth of emotion, the innovative way he combines the social realist tradition with magic realism, the way he addresses current philosophical and literary issues--deftly and comically, always mixing high culture and low--I really don't see how she could have missed so much.

I find this review interesting also in light of an article by Richard Eder published in The Book Review several months ago. In it, Eder lamented the lack of working-class novels, complaining--and here I agree with him--about the predominance of the Ellis-McInerney rich-kid point of view in current American fiction. At the time, I wanted to write and suggest that he read Rosenthal's first book, "Loop's Progress." Now I wish I had. Rosenthal might have gotten the review he deserves.

GALA RAY

Topanga, Calif.

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