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The Deerslayer
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This novel, Cooper's last contribution to his five-volume "Leatherstocking Tales," introduces Natty Bumppo as a young frontiersman in early 18th-century New York and keeps him busy rescuing white women from Indians. Since Cooper actually wrote this book last in his series, one would expect it to be competently written. However, it's impossible to listen to it without thinking of Mark Twain's savage essay "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," in which he calls The Deerslayer a "literary delirium tremens." Very apt. The book takes forever to go nowhere, and its dialog is a tortuous blend of stilted literary English and wholly imaginary frontier dialect. Such imperfections may be passed over on the printed page, but they are impossible to ignore when given voice. Narrator Raymond Todd reads descriptive passages just fine, but no one can make Cooper's dialog sound like real speech. This is better left to print editions. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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