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Old 04-26-2008, 11:18 PM   #9
Dr. Drib
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Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of An American Writer 1943-1954, by Jeffrey Cartwriight
Author: Steven Millhauser

This novel accomplishes many things and works on many levels. It’s a mediation on the art of biography; a love affair with the English Language; a study of how we acquire language; a look at narcissim; and a song to the days of growing up in the 50s when innoncence abounded and life was good.

It’s not necessary to be critically engaged in the issues I note above. Mainly, the novel is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. The main conceit of the book is that it’s “written” by an 11-year old!

This book was originally published in 1972 and has achieved a kind of cult status over the years. It was Milhauser’s first published novel. Years later, while working on my doctorate, I used the novel in a Theory of Language course to explore how we acquire language.

For example, a study of the young author as he acquires langauge (as written by Jeffrey Cartwright), would go something like this:

"ffftttttt, zzzzzffffff, afrrrmrmrm"

fffttttt = undiluted happiness

zzzzzfffff = often used to imitate digestive discomfort

afrrrrrmrmrm = A sound accompanied by drooling and a clapping of hands, signifying total and complete agreement with what is being discussed.

Of course, the young writer eventually graudates to working on his magnum opus: a coloring book!

Don

Correction: Not written BY an 11-year old; rather, written ABOUT an 11-year old.
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