Deaf Sentences - Poem by gershon hepner
Deaf sentences cause the refrain,
“There’s failure to communicate, ”
which people who’ve been checked complain
when stymied by a dumb stalemate.
We ought to wonder who’s the cause
of silence in this failure? We
should, when we sense the silence, pause
and ask ourselves if it could be
the problems of our failure to
communicate. We often see,
but do not hear, when we pursue
our own agendas, sentencing
ourselves and those whom we ignore
with deafness, carrying a sting
that’s worse than wasps, and hurts much more.
Inspired by Michiko Kakutani’s review of “Deaf Sentences” by David Lodge (“Hearing and Dreams Both Fading, ” NYT, October 10,2008) :
The title of David Lodge’s latest novel, “Deaf Sentence, ” is, of course, a play on words, and there are many others scattered throughout these pages: “Deaf and the maiden, ” “Deaf Row, ” “I had not thought deaf had undone so many.” And for Mr. Lodge’s sad-sack,60-something narrator, Desmond Bates, who is losing his hearing, deafness is a kind of death — a symptom of mortality, a constant, embarrassing reminder of his aging body and diminishing hopes. After a couple of lackluster novels, Mr. Lodge is back to form: if “Deaf Sentence” lacks the uproarious academic satire found in “Changing Places” and “Small World, ” it nonetheless showcases the author’s ability to use sympathy and slapstick humor to create an appealingly hapless hero and to recount his adventures with Waugh-like verve. The humor is more muted here, not least because his hero is grappling with sobering matters like an ailing parent, a stale marriage and the frustrations and disappointments of advancing age, instead of the sort of career woes and sexual misalliances faced by Mr. Lodge’s earlier heroes. Indeed the novel occupies a similar place in Mr. Lodge’s career as “Exit, Ghost” does in Philip Roth’s, and “Villages” does in John Updike’s: the book is a veteran novelist’s meditation on aging and death and the diminution of youthful dreams.
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