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Deaf And Dumb

January 31, 1988

Re "Slapstick Stoicism," Hannah Sampson's review of my novel "Experiments With Life and Deaf," (The Book Review, Dec. 27):

When I left Utah a couple of years ago, they handed me my diploma and told me, "Now remember, never use 'aint' and 'post-modernism' in the same sentence." But I forgot . If I weren't over-educated I might think that Hannah Sampson was making some form of insipid class elitism; but she's probably right, the working class never uses big words--never did, never will. Intellectually speaking, they're dumb (and a little deaf).

Speaking of deaf, I thought it sometimes meant, "Partially or totally incapable of hearing; unwilling or refusing to listen: heedless," but Sampson straightened me out again. She says it's "death" if you pronounce the "th" as "f." I envy her clarity and univocality.

I should also point out to Sampson that Red never hits his pear tree with a bowling ball, he hits it with an ax handle. He hits the maple tree with his bowling ball. Anyone sensitive to the conflicting nuances of the modern text, where plot is often guided by magic reality, imagery constellations, playful narration, pun, and allusion would know that Red would never hit his pear tree with a bowling ball. Of course, she could also read the book.

Maybe what I need is a good writing program to teach me how to write minimalist realism.

CHUCK ROSENTHAL

LOS ANGELES

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