GALA by Paul West


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Whether defined as ""autofiction,"" ""pipe dream into prose,"" or even ""a novel,"" this is actually a continuation of Paul West's special book about a special child, Words For a Deaf Daughter (1970). She was the ""hooligan"" Mandy he taught, syllable by garbled syllable; now she's fourteen, much more grown--how much? Certainly she's in far greater control when he brings her from the continent for a two-week stay. West, or Deulius, projects this gala, short for galaxy, for Mandy, or Milk (Milk of the Milky Way) in the form of the universe he charts for her with drawings (reproduced here). Thus the gala is not only a ""chromatic extravaganza"" but metaphor and myth and especially a medium of communication which fascinates her. After all the sky was ""man's first picture book"" and in West's punchy prose all its images and colors spin, refract, implode. West, you'll remember, is something of a wizard with words including difficult ones borrowed from every discipline (drogue, ananthous). They proliferate wildly. And the book, partly because of his exhausting ""verbal spoor,"" connects less than the first one, only touching ground or touching the reader as the days grow short and Milk must be returned--4000 miles away, a separation involving more than time or space. It's been a cosmic high-wire trip, emphasize trip, perhaps the only way to make this experience bearable for the one left behind ""living in a posthumous present.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row