EXPERIMENTS WITH LIFE AND DEAF by Chuck Rosenthal

EXPERIMENTS WITH LIFE AND DEAF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second installment of Rosenthal's increasingly self-indulgent and academic trilogy on the life and times of one Jarvis Loop. In last year's Loop's Progress, Rosenthal described Jarvis' growing up in an eccentric working-class family in Erie, Penn., with brutish father Red, fanatical Catholic mom Helen, and fat genius sister Neda. Nothing much has changed, except that Neda is now skinny and beautiful, and it's 1963. Jarvis continues his wild and crazy ways; he takes heroin and hangs out with his gang, the Dialecticians, but has stopped burglarizing houses since a confrontation sent a classmate into a coma. Instead, he and his weapons-obsessed neighbor Karl Marksman have taken to plying Lake Erie, looking for pleasure boats to rob. And Jarvis is also having an incredibly sappy affair (""Kara just looked at me across the abyss of separateness and then I knew to touch her breast or wash her hair"") with a photography teacher obsessed with the Korean War death of her brother. He and Kara marry, and Kara gives birth to the next generation--known as Visitor Loop--before she dies in an accident. Jarvis, who has given up piracy on Lake Erie after a near-fatal encounter with an ocean liner, is left to think deep thoughts: ""There are no dreams, and no one has ever talked to the dead, and beyond that I have learned nothing, nothing."" Readers may feel the same way, since the saving humor present in the first book is only occasional here.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1987
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson