Item description for House of the Deaf by Lamar Herrin...
Ben Williamson has lost a daughter. While studying abroad in Madrid, Michelle Williamson was caught in a bombing by Basque separatists, a bombing that killed her and several members of the Guardia Civil at a post in a park. For Ben, this act of violence has left only questions, and at a moment of despair he decides to seek out the reasons for Michelle's death. As Ben begins to learn about the endless tensions beneath the surface of Spanish culture, he finds that he wants someone to answer for his loss.
Ben's other daughter, Annie, is also wrestling with the loss of her sister. When she follows her father to Spain, she finds a changed man.
Haunting and beautiful, House of the Deaf is the story of one man's brush with terrorism and his quest to find answers.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.3" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.8" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Sep 10, 2006
Publisher Unbridled Books
ISBN 1932961283 ISBN13 9781932961287
Availability 6 units. Availability accurate as of Jan 21, 2017 11:15.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Lamar Herrin
Lamar Herrin is the author of four previous novels: The Unwritten Chronicles of Robert E. Lee, The Rio Loja Ringmaster, American Baroque, and The Lies Boys Tell. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Epoch. Herrin is also the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is a professor of creative writing and contemporary literature at Cornell University.
Reviews - What do customers think about House of the Deaf?
Grief Redeemed Apr 6, 2006
Lamar Herrin has long been a sinfully neglected writer. Finally in House of the Deaf, he may at last reach the kind of audience he deserves. Three years earlier, Ben Williamson's daughter, Michelle, was killed randomly, senselessly, in a Basque Separatist (ETA) bombing of a Madrid police kiosk. Michelle was jogging, was an American exchange student. Now, three years later, divorced, unmoored, jobless, her father Ben comes to Madrid--for what? Undertanding? Revenge? Forgiveness? He leaves his equally unmoored, 21-year-old daughter Annie at home in Lexington, KY, thinking she is safe at college. But Annie does not at first know where or how her father has disappeared. In Madrid Ben fixes, correctly or not, on a promnent ETA leader, as a man who is likely responsible for his daughter's murder. As Annie discovers her father's trip to Madrid, and follows him-to find him? save him--Ben follows the ETA leader into Basque country. In prose that's evocative, sinuous, precise and stunning, the two quests begin to converge. There are no cheap tricks here, no easy answers. Only deepening mysteries of love and revenge, grief and ambiguity, love, guilt, and the nearly overwhelming weight of history--both personal and political. The ending will remind us why we read brilliant literary fiction.
"There's something missing, isn't there, Ben? There's some loss." Dec 21, 2005
One morning in Madrid, Michelle Williamson, a young exchange student, goes out for a run, and never returns. Caught up in a deadly explosion of a Civil Guard Station by Basque Separatists, Michelle is killed; a victim of a senseless attack that really did nothing to advance the Basque cause. Her American family is of course, devastated by the news, with her father Ben Williamson, rattled by grief, never quite accepting the loss.
Three years after her death, and independently wealthy, with his marriage to a successful real estate agent in shambles, Ben decides to go to Madrid, to retrace the last moments of the life of his eldest daughter. Underneath is a simmering hostility, an anger that has been steadily brewing, as he walks through the suburban park where Michelle took her last steps.
But Ben is not the only emotionally damaged member of the Williamson family. His youngest daughter Annie is left behind in Lexington, Kentucky. An unfettered and frustrated twenty-one year old, Annie mourns her older sister, reflecting on her life as second best, calling herself "the backup daughter." While she tries desperately to reconnect with Gail, her distracted mother, she wonders why her father inexplicably took off. Now Michelle's age and enrolled at her sister's university, Annie decides to skip college, preferring to search for her dad in Spain.
Meanwhile, in Madrid, Ben has connected with Paula Ortiz, a sensitive middle-aged woman and an American ex-pat, who awakens long dormant feelings within him, her face so frank and cleansed of expressions, "that Ben feels an entirely different sort of urgency in the pressure of her hand." While Paula tries to work Ben through the tragedy of Michelle's death, Ben begins to obsesses about Armando Ordoki, a Basque Separatist, whom he believes was in some way connected to the bomb in the park.
Author, Lamar Herrin shapes his tale of revenge and redemption around the alternating voices of Ben and Annie, as Ben, ever more obsessed with the politics of ETA and the Basque Fatherland, peruses Ordoki to the Basque hinterland and then on to his hometown. Whilst Ben begins to lose touch and toy with the possibilities of revenge - "all he can tell himself was that he needed a face - one of theirs, a face to make a fair exchange" - Annie trails behind Ben, a self aware and educated young woman, looking for shelter, yearning for the familiar, "the existence of such a place in the very nature of her need."
Herrin effortlessly weaves a story of a freak family tragedy, and spins a dark tale involving a country somewhat mired in internal strife and domestic turmoil. This is Spain where "the ordinariness of things suddenly seemed extraordinary," and where the startling beauty and traditions of the old world, the tensions at the heart of Spanish culture, are juxtaposed with the social mores of the new. The author beautifully evokes time and place, bringing the cosmopolitan world of Madrid to life: "a plaza with a fountain, heavily trafficked sidewalk cafes, a statue of some saint, arcaded walkways emerging into larger plazas that presided over by kings on horseback."
When terrorists kill Michelle a half a world away for reasons that will never make sense, because they haven't lived through it, the Williamson family are left to mourn the loss, a subtraction of one, an abstracted life. In House of the Death, life and death are such fragile, flickering things, such whims of the moment, with Ben, so obsessed with seeking revenge, wondering how he ever came to this place - this place that is so unlike America.
Both Ben and Annie's journey is one of self-knowledge; an important element of the book is also the rediscovery of their love for Michelle, and their love for each other. Their connection together in Spain is fortuitous, but it comes at a pivotal moment in Ben's search for redemption and his efforts to attain some sort of peace. Mike Leonard December 05
"Que detalle mas bonito." Oct 12, 2005
Ben Williamson, his wife and two daughters, live a satisfying life in Lexington, Kentucky. The daughters, Michelle and Annie are very different. At twenty-one, Michelle is already treading a career path, a serious and directed young woman who has traveled to Spain to expand her career options. The slightly younger Annie is an idealist, like her father, participating fully in the world around her with joyful laughter. Through their years of sisterly competition, Michelle cruelly tells Annie that she is the backup sister, in case anything ever happens to the golden child, the first daughter. Only in Spain for a month, Michelle becomes an accidental victim of a terrorist bombing by Basque separatists, her young life extinguished in a manner that sunders her family in America, leaving Annie and her parent's, whose marriage cannot survive the tragedy, to come to terms with this cruel legacy.
Almost three years later, Ben Williamson hovers near Annie's campus as if to protect his remaining daughter. After obsessively researching the country where his daughter lost her life, Ben travels to Spain, to the scene of Michelle's death. Ben experiences a series of emotional shifts while in Spain, absorbing all around him, inching around the edges of his unbearable despair and growing rage, in a futile endeavor to make sense of his daughter's death: "As all tourists finally must, he becomes a tourist of himself." While wandering near the scene of the explosion, Ben has the good fortune to meet the divorced Paula Ortiz, a sensible and sensitive woman who is drawn to Williamson, but intuits the depth of his unresolved feelings. After a short time together, Ben disappears and Paula is frantic with unarticulated fears.
Annie is the other half of this story, the lens through which the author discloses Williamson as father and man, the unwitting beneficiary of a devoted daughter with a finely tuned sensitivity to her father's pain and loneliness. Struggling to accept Michelle's loss, the continued rivalry between the sisters, one alive, one dead, still exists in Annie's mind, a stubborn resentment of the favored daughter. Annie thoughtfully assesses where this continued self-indulgence has gotten her. Impulsively arriving in Spain with an increasing sense of urgency, Annie meets Paula with an assurance that astonishes the older woman, for this girl can feel her father's nearness and the dark emotional terrain that consumes him.
The psychological weight of the Williamson's loss is perfectly balanced with the ambiguities of Spanish culture, the small, thoughtful details of everyday life in stark relief to the outbursts of passion, the careful tenderness until the next outburst. The protagonists blindly enter the heart of Basque territory, infiltrated by an angry father who wants another in exchange for his daughter, a landscape of repression, torture and terrorism. In deeply compassionate prose tuned to the subtleties of an exotic culture, the author inserts the conflicted Ben into a world so unlike his own, where historical passions run deep and frequently violent. This extraordinary pilgrimage of one man's broken heart in search of consolation is a moving portrait of loss and personal redemption. Luan Gaines/2005.
Highly recommended adult reading Oct 10, 2005
This is an extraordinary novel, a quietly harrowing story of a despairing man who struggles to rebuild his broken life by seeking answers. Ben Williamson is 48 years old, financially comfortable, and floundering emotionally. His oldest daughter, Michelle, was the innocent victim of a terrorist bombing in Madrid three years ago. His wife, Gail, is a woman of relaxed ethics who has blithely burned her bridges and left their marriage behind. Williamson devotes his life to the surviving daughter, Annie, who has always considered herself to be nothing more than a "back up daughter" trapped in Michelle's determined wake. After three years of smothering grief, Ben suddenly and unexpectedly takes action.
In Madrid, Ben eventually locates the place his daughter died. He learns that Basque separatists, known as the ETA, were responsible for the bombing. The Basque and their mountainous regions have never been conquered by any invader. Ben wants answers, and his intuition tells him those answers will be found only in Basque strongholds.
Ben's quest for answers transforms him completely. He learns to stretch life's parameters, trust his intuition while tracking down the man he blames for Michelle's death.
The storyline is exciting and all characters believably human. Through Herrin's skill, Spain becomes a living entity. This book is highly recommended.