Amish teens, and sentences, are given rein to run free

Maryland Books

July 16, 2006|By HARRY MERRITT | HARRY MERRITT,SUN REPORTER

Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish

Tom Shachtman

THE END OF I.

Stephen Dixon

McSweeney's / 200 pages / $22

First came I., an acclaimed autobiographical novel by Stephen Dixon, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins University. Now comes The End of I., a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant novel with many of the same themes. In chapters that read as short stories, the narrator discusses his relationships with, among others, his disabled wife, his daughters, mother-in-law and a dying classmate.

Dixon may be, as one observer put it, "one of the great secret masters," but for the first-time reader he can be frustrating. A sentence can fill pages, making each a deep sea of words. I started counting one sentence but quit after 448 words. The sentence marched on for another page and a half.

harry.merritt@baltsun.com

Harry Merritt, The Sun's Modern Life editor, is filling in for reviewer Carl Schoettler, who is on medical leave.

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