Louise Stern - Chattering: Stories (2 stars)

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Louise Stern - Chattering: Stories

(Granta)

Those of us in the hearing world ponder rarely on the everyday lives of our neighbours in the deaf community, where an ease in communication that we take for granted has a profound, stunting effect in its absence on the social lives of the young deaf. Thus the prospect of a collection of short stories exploring what it is to come of age on the hushed outskirts of a noisy world is an enticing one indeed.

In her debut Louise Stern sets out 12 short stories, both homely and exotic, that promise a window on the fearless exuberance of youth through the foil of permanent silence. Most of the pieces, however, feel flimsy and underdeveloped and despite purporting adventure in colourful locales, they often come out flat and uninspiring. Thus these offerings, as glimpses of an existence removed and rarely explained, are plaintive and personal but ultimately lacking in any magic.

Comments

1. SophieDJB13 Jul 2010, 10:20am Report

I disagree with this review. The stories ARE magical. I've never read anything like it. It's a hugely exciting debut.

The writing is beautiful and very subtle. Stern's touch is light, not heavy handed. Blink and you miss it. The authorial jokes when they come are sly and uplifting.

The reviewer talks a lot of what he expected from the book, and was disappointed, perhaps because his expectations of deafness were confounded. That's as it should be. Deafness is not like it is presented in hearing movies and on TV, it is like Stern presents it in this book. She has articulated various states of being that are rarely, if ever, articulated. It's the most exciting book I've read this year.

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