SANJO by Evelyn Wilde Mayerson


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The portrait of a 34-year-old woman/child suffering from Down's syndrome--drawn from experience, with more grit than art, by a practicing' psychiatrist. Mayerson makes no attempt to imagine Sanjo's inner thoughts, relying on physical descriptions to suggest the personality within: hammerlock-hold hugs, a lowered head growling to her chest, stubby knuckles applauding, and underpants occasionally wet in nervousness. But the straightforward, meticulous sketching-in of several months' experience is more than enough to dramatize Sanjo's vulnerability to the manipulation and misfortunes of others: she is raped twice by her mailman (who is subsequently beaten to a pulp by concerned neighbors); she befriends a four-year-old who taunts and betrays her; she nearly loses a 14-year-old ally to a drug overdose and a runaway attempt; and she never quite comprehends the abandonment of her elderly mother when ""Ma"" is hospitalized and later dies, leaving Sanjo to be packed off to an institution by a father who cannot cope. A few attempts at embroidered prose merely intrude, and there's an evasive, superimposed happy ending. But, even without any of the values of good fiction, Mayerson's matter-of-fact recitation of the miseries of helplessness exerts an undeniably powerful cumulative effect.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1979
Publisher: Lippincott