This volume brings together two of Paul West's best books: his critically acclaimed Words for a Deaf Daughter (1970), a nonfiction account of West's deaf and brain-damaged daughter Mandy at age eight, and Gala (1976), a novel about a writer named Wight Deulius who brings his handicapped teenage daughter Michaela from England to America for a visit. While Words is an account of Mandy's diagnosis and treatment, Gala is "the scenario of a wish-fulfillment" (as West writes in the preface), a continuation of the father and daughter's joyful investigation of the richness of life and its amazing possibilities. Ranging across natural history and astronomy in his effort to understand his daughter's handicap, West finds in Mandy/Michaela an irrepressible and unpredictable guide to the mysteries of the universe. Brought together in the same volume, the books also allow a unique look at how nonfiction and fiction techniques can be used to the same ends in the hands of a master of prose.
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(218mm x 145mm x 24mm)
Dalkey Archive Press
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Mr. West is a writer for whom words are a projectile (if you remember Alley Jaggers) - freewheeling, hectic, rumbustious, percussive and imaginatively prolix. Mandy, his daughter, here glimpsed in a few of her early years, is deaf - also "exceptional" which might mean autistic - and also a hooligan who might be eating nail varnish or drinking from a potty or staring unblinking at 150 watt bulbs or running, everywhere, "heedless of gesticulating and half-felled adults and the sanity of drivers." She has only three words to begin with, baba, more and ish-ish, and Mr. West's "space probe" in the form of an epistle shows her here and there - taking care of a bird, or immersed in a bath, or developing a lexicon of sounds and meanings which will salvage her from the "long emergency" of those who live without words and with a special dependence which is also a special innocence. Some of the earlier parts appeared in the New American Review; a closing chapter relates more directly to those who deal with any disadvantaged child and his naked affection for this helterskelter, demonic creature is everywhere apparent. The book of course is for Mandy who is "as incoherent as daily light, as vulnerable as uranium 235, and (has) an atom where an atom shouldn't be" - it's for others too. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Paul West
Paul West (February 23, 1930) is an English-born novelist, literary historian and poet, the author of 24 novels, who has lived in America since the early 1960s. He now (in 2012) resides in upstate New York with his wife, the writer, poet and well-known naturalist Diane Ackerman.