Friday, March 6, 2009

Mairs? Grealy? Skloot?

A generous review of Seven Wheelchairs from Wordgathering ...

George Bernard Shaw wrote, famously, “All autobiographies are lies.” Put a bit more kindly, all life narratives are constructions. As Hayden White noted of history, it is not so much a question of which facts are selected, but of the narrative that is created to connect the facts1. Life narratives being a species of personal history, White’s observation apply as much to autobiography as to history on a grander scope. This has significant implications for disabilities literature.

The genre of disabilities autobiography could arguably be said to have begun with them Irving Zola’s Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living with Disability published in 19822. Since Zola’s work appeared, many quality life narratives have by writers with disabilities have been published including those by Nancy Mairs, Anne Finger, Kenny Fries, Lucy Grealy, Stephen Kuusisto, John Hockenberry, Eli Claire, Floyd Skloot, and Simi Linton. To these, Gary Presley’s Seven Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio (2008) needs to be added.

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