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August 08, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

ROOMS IN THE HOUSE OF STONE by Michael Dorris (Milkweed Editions: $4.95; 67 pp.; paperback original). In this moving essay, the author of "The Broken Chord" recounts his experiences working with refugees and famine victims in Africa for the Save the Children Foundation: "Every day I spend in southeastern Zimbabwe pushes back the boundary of deprivation I believed human beings could endure. In the camps there is an unrelieved sense of waiting, but it's a waiting bereft of expectation, a queue so stalled that no one remembers what was supposed to be at the end." Although Dorris doesn't explore the causes of the misery he confronts--overpopulation, overgrazing, civil war--he presents the response of a compassionate man to an appalling vision of needless suffering.

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