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There Is Such A Duck

November 06, 1988

In his otherwise insightful review of my novel "Gone the Sun" (Book Review, Sept. 11), Keith Love has made several factual errors that need to be set straight.

First, he states that the "most jarring flaw" in the story is that the first-person narrator "knows everything" the main character does "even in his most private moments," but "never is it explained that (the main character) told all of this to (the narrator) at some point."

If Love will look on Page 4 of the book, he will find the narrator telling us of the main character that "We engaged in long talks the whole time we knew one another. He told me things he didn't tell other people. . . ." And again on Page 7, ". . . he (the main character) talked to me and I tried to be a good listener. We were friends from childhood. I think he told me things he wouldn't say to anyone else."

Love further reports that I have made two "factual errors" in the book that "get us off on the wrong foot."

Of the "black mallard" duck the main character shoots for dinner, Love reports that "there ain't no such duck." In this, Love is quite wrong. I and my friends have hunted black mallards for years all along the East Coast. It is a most popular duck, also called the "black duck," as any experienced waterfowler can attest.

Finally, Love states flatly that the trout that the main character catches "is a cold water fish that cannot survive anywhere near the Gulf Coast." This will come as distressing news to the thousands of fishermen from Florida to Texas who for many years have been catching and eating the most popular game fish along the Gulf Coast and its bays and bayous--the speckled trout.

Otherwise, I appreciate Love's thoughtful critique. I also invite him to be my guest on an expedition after some black mallards and speckled trout where, after dining on these fine species, he can judge for himself whether or not they exist in these parts.

WINSTON GROOM

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS, Ala.

Love replies: As one who hunts and fishes, I had never heard of black mallards or of trout in the Southern "low country." So before writing my review, I called the Alabama Department of Fish and Game and was told that there are black ducks and there are mallards, but biologically there is no such thing as a black mallard. The same person also said that the only trout he knew of in Alabama were in the northern part of the state in cold-water streams. But I would love to be proved wrong by Winston Groom. When do I pack my rods and guns?

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