Dead Languages: A Novel

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1989 - Fiction - 245 pages
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From the moment his mother tries unsuccessfully to coax him into saying "Philadelphia," Jeremy Zorn's life is framed by his unwieldy attempts at articulation. Through family rituals with his word-obsessed parents and sister, failed first love, an ill-fated run for class president, as the only Jewish boy on an otherwise all-black basketball team, all of the passages of Jeremy's life are marked in some way by his stutter and his wildly off-the-mark attempts at a cure. It is only when he enters college and learns his strong-willed mother is dying that he realizes all languages, when used as hiding places for the heart, are dead ones.

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Dead Languages (Graywolf Rediscovery Series)

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In a novel originally published in 1989, Jeremy Zorn has words thrust upon him by his family almost from the moment of his birth. As he grows, a stutter prevents him from correctly pronouncing any of them. His impediment, however, is a metaphor for emotions he is unable to verbalize. Read full review

Dead languages: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

From Billy Budd to Billy Bibbitt, characters tormented by stuttering and thus prevented from expressing their most passionate feelings have played a central role in American literature. But Jeremy ... Read full review


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About the author (1989)

David Shield's other books are "Remote," "A Handbook for Drowning," and "Heroes," His stories and essays have appeared in the "New York Times Magazine," "Harper's," "Vogue," "Details," the "Village Voice," and "Utne Reader," He lives in Seattle, where is a professor of English at the University of Washington.

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