Sign Languages: Stories

James Hannah, Author University of Missouri Press $22.5 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8262-0900-9
The characters in these nine tales set largely in East Texas are as real as anyone you might meet on the street or at a party, but that doesn't make their stories worth reading. The cloying atmosphere of the region's oft-cited heat and humidity is matched by the torpid passivity of the main players; the supporting figures are often more interesting, if no more appealing. In the epistolary ``Friends of Beccari,'' an academic writes to a colleague about his older brother's transformation from crusading liberal to ultra-right wing bigot. In choosing to devote his text to the scholar's horrified and predictable reactions rather than to the reasons and motivations for the brother's startling volte face, Hannah (Desperate Measures) leaves the reader frustrated. The protagonist of ``Backyards'' attempts to cope with a quartet of feral children who have been terrorizing his brother's neighborhood--unfortunately, they are far livelier than the leaden narrative told from his point of view. The title story, in which alienated Charles pretends to be deaf and fakes signing, encapsulates the message of the entire collection: communication has become a gesture rather than a vehicle for meaning. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 164 pages - 978-1-941531-48-8
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