Monday, August 23, 2010

Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge

This novel is far milder than David Lodge's usual fare, which generally features bitingly funny satire and hilariously over the top plot twists. This kinder, gentler Lodge is still very funny, and nails his characters in a way few can imitate.

Where I heard about this book: Looking for something funny to read, I checked out the Lodge shelf.

What I thought about this book: It was chugging along at 4 stars, but an anemic ending brings it down to 3. And a half.

What this book is about
: Desmond Bates is a retired professor of linguistics who is well on his way to becoming deaf. His inability to hear much of what is going on around him leads to some very funny situations, such as his inadvertently making a date with a comely young American student. It is also the basis many touching ruminations on community and isolation. David Lodge is himself a victim of hearing loss, which is probably the basis for his gentle treatment of the subject. Unfortunately, he is shade too gentle with the somewhat pompous Bates, and lets him slide easily out of the difficulties he's created for himself. The gorgeous setup of Desmond's accidental relationship with the increasingly odd American, his tough-as-nails wife and his senile and uncooperative father begs for a major fall. He is allowed, however, to slip through the trap unscathed. The novel ends up being amusing and sweet, but misses the wickedly funny mark Lodge usually hits.

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