How to Read an Unwritten Language: A Novel

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Scribner, 1995 - Fiction - 254 pages
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When Michael Kirby's mother begins to create strangely unsettling personalities before the private audience of her three children, she bestows upon Michael a double-edged gift: the ability to see past the ordinary surface of the world. After her performances lead to catastrophe, Michael embarks on a gripping redemptive journey to uncover the hidden languages of the heart. With his new vision he attempts to heal his father, who is better at nurturing plants than children; his sister, who tries to contain the tumult of her own awakening voices; Kate, an artist who can draw only objects, not people; and Sylvia, a meteorologist haunted by her failed predictions. The visionary power of How to Read an Unwritten Language can transform the world we think we know, turning what seems ordinary into something extraordinary and unexpected. Through Michael's eyes the reader discovers the hidden terrors of a bowling alley, the insinuating force of the daily horoscope, the secret poetry of insurance and the startling revelations that are possible on a carousel ride. Even simple objects at yard sales and auctions contain stories waiting to be revealed, whether it's a tape recorder holding the contagiously powerful suicide songs of a doomed lover or the bent plastic arm of a doll that a timid child once waved to ward off imagined dangers.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

From storywriter Graham (The Art of the Knock, 1985), an exceptional first novel about the unveiling of secret lives and hidden stories. Sitting on a park bench, a solitary man named Michael Kirby ... Read full review

How to read an unwritten language: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The narrator of this well-written but frustrating novel haunts garage sales and auctions in search of ordinary objects--a wedding ring, a stone, and other knickknacks--for the healing stories that ... Read full review


A Secret Performance
My Second Language

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About the author (1995)

Graham-Institute of Child Health, London

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