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A Novel

Douglas Bullard (1937-2005) was a graduate of Gallaudet College, an Alaskan geologist, an American Sign Language storyteller, and one-time president of the Florida Association of the Deaf.

Publication Year: 2013

Now, a new edition of the classic novel Islay promises to entertain a contemporary audience with the Deaf American dream first written by Douglas Bullard in 1986. Islay is the name of an imaginary island state coveted by Lyson Sulla, a Deaf man who is tired of feeling that “hearing think deaf means dumb, pat head.” Sulla signs this to his wife Mary in explanation of his desire to turn Islay into a state solely for Deaf people, with himself as governor. From there, his peripatetic quest begins. Sulla initiates his plan by driving to Islay to survey the lay of the land. There, he meets Gene Owls, another Deaf man who also has designs on the island. Sulla then embarks on travels around the nation recruiting Deaf people to join his crusade. Along the way, he meets a Deaf doctor, a bowling alley owner, a family of peddlers, a Deaf minister, and a willing businessman. Far from a heroic character, Sulla engages in each encounter in an earthy, self-serving fashion that sends up all parties involved, hearing and Deaf. Islay uniquely blends classic English forms of satire with the direct, down-to-earth expression of American Sign Language ingeniously rendered throughout. Deaf himself, Bullard has created a wonderfully amusing story that features Deaf people seeking their American dream in a manner both serious and joyous at the same time.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Quote, Dedication, Frontispiece

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pp. ii-viii

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pp. ix-xviii

...When Islay first saw the light of day in 1986, it was the only full-length novel by a Deaf American to have not only a Deaf American protagonist but also a Deaf American supporting cast. Indeed, it can be said that the Deaf community has equal billing along with Lyson Sulla, the protagonist. Other novels have been written by Deaf...

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pp. 1-14

...There in the den, shut against the world, against Mary as well, though he would never admit it, Lyson C. Sulla spent his Saturdays. Mary was uneasy about this. Uncomfortable also with the semantics by which he called the room a den. She knew there was no such thing as a den in an apartment, but Lyson was obstinate on this point. She would have been ...

Part One: Strings

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pp. 17-25

...Its peculiar position on the map, hidden away in a recess like a hind tit tucked up under the tenderloin of the great states of the Union, gave the distinct impression that the state of Islay was an afterthought, which indeed it was. At first glance Islay appears to be a river delta where the American River spills into Cheshire Bay on the south. On ...

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pp. 26-32

...Down the freeway to Islay, Lyson drove along with what his eyes saw as hundreds of vehicles but what his mind perceived as millions bound for New York, all bypassing Suffex. He stayed in the slow lane on the right. If his new car was to be damaged, let it be confined to one side, he anxiously thought. Besides, it is the king of beasts that moves slowly...

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pp. 33-53

...Up a tremendous bridge the Lincoln soared high in a dizzying arc above Wrong Turn, rippling far down. Way ahead and below, the forests of Islay unfolded before him. All that could be seen were trees and trees, but Lyson was on the lookout for where Islay lay, and so he saw it immediately and whooped. There it is! He thrust a fist into the air...

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pp. 54-74

...Usually lyson rose with the sun, but this morning he was startled that the light behind the drawn curtains glared with the intensity of full daylight. Impossible! He threw back the bed covers and looked around for his wristwatch. He found it on the suitcase and saw that it was 8:33 a.m., Tuesday, the eighth. Can’t be! He opened the curtains ...

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pp. 75-92

...At the corner of Tenth and Great as prearranged for two o’clock, Beatrice picked up Lyson in her Volkswagen. She drove eastward toward Right Road. “Did Dottie get the message?” Lyson asked. “Yes,” Beatrice replied cheerily. “In fact, she’s all for this.”Lyson squirmed in his seat for a more comfortable position. “Six ...

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pp. 93-103

...breakfast with the Quayles. The sun gave forth delicate rays in that hour before it became hot, imparting a light, pleasant glow to the air; the trees soared weightless and vibrant. The homes along the boulevard sat comfortably the way well-built structures do. Crabgrass had either won or been accepted by many of the lawns. Lyson liked the ...

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pp. 104-124

...Refreshed from the swim, though a bit sheepish, the boys arrived at the Quayles’ home for lunch. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato, the all-American favorite. But the pineapple sandwich was new to Lyson—and delicious. The boys munched away while Beatrice propped her elbows on the table and rested her chin on folded hands, watching with ...

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pp. 125-142

...Night was well established when they arrived back at the Quayles’ home in Suffex. A note on the table read: “We’re over at Lyson’s new house. Come on over. Love, Beatrice.” “We?” puzzled the Captain. “Let’s go.” More cars than the people had ever seen in Islay were parked in the street around the house, and Andy had to park near the bandstand. As they walked back to the house, Lyson wondered aloud: “Somebody ...

Part Two: Drums

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pp. 145-154

...Lyson could not believe his eyes, the spectacle he found himself in, the likes of which he had never before seen. All along both sides of the street, in the block right where the American Insurance of the Deaf ought to be, were taverns and bookstores with painted-out windows and loud signs warning away minors. Inappropriately friendly women ...

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pp. 155-167

...Absurdly crazy! Here i am, Lyson C. Sulla, formerly of Washington, DC, ex-government clerk but now of Suffex in Islay. True, I was officially a statistician but in reality a mere pencil pusher—Lyson shook his head—now here I am, president of Islay Company but in reality a common, fawning salesman on the road! Rows and rows of corn stretched as far as he could see; so swift ...

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pp. 168-178

...Lyson was on the teletypewriter to Mary when Sandy came in to the motel room, bringing what she said was her son’s jogging outfit and sneakers. She insisted he needed these for the night she’d planned for the two of them. She herself had on a baby-blue jogging suit that Staring at the fleeting words almost hypnotized Lyson, so he was ...

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pp. 179-184

...Along the interstate in Wyoming grew Little Antarctica, a modern little truck stop that came into being because of its need to be right there on the freeway, miles from anywhere. In the early summer, although some green could be seen in scattered prairie grasses and sagebrush, the area was as bleak as in winter-time, and the traveler’s eyes brightened at the veritable forest of soaring signs proclaiming an oasis. Such an oasis signifies an exchange of ...

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pp. 185-197

...Lyson was alone again in his genuine leather-covered seat, wheeling his way west. Already he was through the Rockies, having hardly noticed them, let alone Cheyenne and most of the other towns along the way even when stopping for fuel and food. Even as the signs said he was approaching Salt Lake City, Lyson remained unconscious of ...

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pp. 198-214

...The dinner Party at the Pankeys’ home began under the stars, outside on the lawn, softly lit by floodlights arranged among the shrubbery so that the light was filtered and indirect. This had the admirable effect that, while the lawn and tables were lit up, the stars and sky formed a contrasting canopy above. Lyson was transfixed by the immense depth ...

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pp. 215-227

...The Most Dear Reverend Calvin Dowie was down on his knees in the morning sunbeam, which was flooding through the tall, narrow window into his study as it did every morning before nine thirty, before the sun rose above the eaves, plunging the study into quiet shade. The sun felt wonderful on his uplifted face, penetrating his closed eyelids, so ...

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pp. 228-234

...Lyson was impressed with the new two-story building that housed Silent Electronics. Tastefully modern, with a mixture of brick, cedar, glass, and solar panels worked into a series of geometric shapes, arranged so that no one pattern was repeated anywhere. The landscaping was first rate, with palms, willows, eucalyptus, pines, hedges, flower ...

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pp. 235-248


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pp. 249-266

...The airplane began dropping and terror arose in Lyson. He could feel a ball of fear, heavy in his stomach, growing, sucking at the vitality of his body so that his limbs became weak and his mouth dry. No more would they be high above the world, a pie in the sky, remote from the affairs of man upon the ground. Very soon they would be discharged ...

Part Three: Cymbals

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pp. 269-275

...It took some doing and the help of some friends, including a carpenter skilled with compass and saw, but they got the big table, the one with the map of Islay and rivers painted on it, up on the roof and into the top room in the turret. The table had to be recut and two legs relocated to fit snugly against the inside curving wall of the turret. But ...

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pp. 276-283

...Spring had been rather slow in coming, and when it arrived, it yielded almost immediately to summer. Lyson was elated. Now he could implement his plans for the bandstand. First, it had to be cleaned out: It had been a messy winter. He’d take a mop and bucket and do it himself except that he knew he would be in full view of Governor Wenchell...

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pp. 284-297

...Mary woke lyson the next morning by slapping his chest with the morning newspaper. She had never done this before; if there was news she wanted him to see, she always simply folded the paper to the proper place and left it by his plate at breakfast. This was her gentle way of letting him know she had seen the news, and that she would not let him ...

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pp. 298-306

...To be with Lyson at a most historical moment, many of his friends crowded into his office up in the turret. Due in a few minutes was the very first newscast, on WZPO Channel 8, entirely in sign language. The atmosphere in the office was electric with excitement and warm, as well as infused with the better kind of warmth that only friends can give. ...

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pp. 307-316

...From dawn until midnight, day after day, bands played in the Merry Bandstand. Doctor Masserbatt saw to this, arranging for relays, substitutes, meals, an ambulance, and Porta-Johns so that the beat would not cease from dawn until midnight. No way was he going to let the deaf desecrate such a fine structure dedicated solely to the celebration ...

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pp. 317-327

...little corner in the Federal Building. People came to him for an important service. Newspapers, magazines, cough drops, aspirin. They spoke to him. He was an expert lip-reader. So long as he kept his mouth shut, most of them did not even know he was deaf. He was very proud of this. People would come up and say something. He would, if their lips ...

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pp. 328-335

...day and shook Suffex with heavy noise. A series of amplifiers set up around the bandstand carried the noise across the rivers into surrounding states, attracting countless hearing people and annoying the deaf of Islay. Even the deafest of the deaf could feel the noise. The noise activated signaling lights in deaf homes. Hearing children complained to their deaf parents. The noise vibrated pictures loose ported everywhere by everyone, deaf and hearing. Dr. Shooner expressed concern that powerful vibrations could destroy brain cells....

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pp. 336-348

...Doctor Masserbatt was all set to protect the Integrity of Education in the state of Islay. “It is extremely important,” he pounded on the table, “that the very principles on which education is founded not be violated by those who have so little education that they would dare politicize it, make a mockery of it, or, worse, cheapen it by making it ...

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pp. 349-355

...The battle lines were drawn, though Lyson didn’t quite know just where. They were just there. He could feel them sharp as a knife. He was nervous and would have rubbed his knees had not Mary insisted he relieve himself before coming. The Captain intervened with a solution. A bottle of Gorlesch’s beer would do the trick, he declared. Just ...

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pp. 356-363

...Lyson still felt cheated. Debate not finished! Still must debate! With the weariness felt by any wife whose husband insists on playing the harp, Mary rolled her eyes. Listen. New game now. She threw the where the future of Islay was to be identified for the edification of the voters, where the future of the deaf in Islay was supposed to ...

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pp. 364-371

...Tenderly they took Lyson down the island to Port Ellen, through rolling hills bright with the great final burst of summer before its total surrender to the heavy hand of winter. Lyson sat all bundled up in blankets and comforters in the backseat, his head bowed, doubling up his chin as he reveled in the passing oranges, reds, yellows, browns ...

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pp. 372-378

...Considerable effort was required to get Lyson out of bed. First, he had crawled in head first, so only his feet showed. Not for long. Tickling only got them deeper under the blanket, which finally had to be removed entirely. Then his claws and teeth had to be pried loose from their hold on the mattress. It was not easy, but they at last got him ...

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pp. 379-382

...If you wish to reform a man, you’d have to begin with his grandmother. Lyson was still dazed even though reality stared him in the face daily; every day many people sought to kiss his hand, the one with the wedding band, as Mary insisted. Even the most beautiful of them, upon grasping his hand and bringing it up to the pucker for the obligatory...

E-ISBN-13: 9781563685644
E-ISBN-10: 1563685647
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563685637
Print-ISBN-10: 1563685639

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2013