Louise Stern’s stories are peopled with brave young girls, out to party, travel the world, go a little bit wild. The one thing that marks them out from their peers is that they have grown up deaf. They communicate with the outside world via a complicated mixture of sign language, lip-reading, note-scribbling, guesswork and instinct. Yet they are full of daring, ready for adventures that take them into unfamiliar places and strange, cock-eyed relationships with people whose actions they observe but never wholly understand. It is this sense of dislocation from common experience that marks out Louise Stern’s original voice. She is fully engaged in the world we recognize and share, but the way she observes it sets her apart. Her eyes are keen; she notices things we would never see; she is quick to judge, wary, suspicious and vulnerable. She experiences the world like a voyeur, always watching, yet able to retreat to an interior silence that nobody from the outside can ever reach.
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