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'Within What?'

April 04, 1993

Paul Gervais' review of Kate Braverman's latest book ("Wonders of the West," March 7) verges on obsequious drivel. Gervais praises Braverman because "she made this book as tough as she felt she had to, taking the risk of exposing, courageously, the true character of life's underbelly, which so many of us (leave me out of it, please) are afraid to face and thereby accept."

I don't see the risk involved. We all know that shock sells.

I also fail to see the value of "accepting" these distortions. The true risk is not in rubbing our noses in life's ugliness for 283 pages at $20 a shot, but in the heroic attempt (evidently not made in this book) a writer makes to illuminate the human experience with sensibility, insight, irony, humor and personal wisdom.

Gervais goes on lamely to sort of say that Braverman's "insistent emphasis" on the dreary and depressing "might be the novel's essential flaw." Might be? For a book critic, Gervais is tediously noncommittal. And how can an editor allow a line like this to get into print?: " 'Wonders of the West' is an intense probing of the life within." The life within? Within what? Whose life?

LESLIE MONSOUR

LOS ANGELES

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