Books by John Callahan

THREE DAYS BEFORE THE SHOOTING by Ralph Ellison
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 2, 2010

"A fascinating look inside Ellison's methods and concerns as a writer—and a great story as well."
The unfinished second novel from Invisible Man author Ellison, an edited version of which appeared in 1999 under the title Juneteenth. Read full book review >
Released: May 17, 1989

The joke of the title is that Callahan's a paraplegic, He's also a cartoonist (Penthouse, Omni, National Lampoon) with an acidic wit that permeates this involving and extraordinarily frank account of how he came to grips with his disability—and with the alcoholism that helped cause it. Now 37, Callahan was paralyzed at age 21 while blind-drunk in an auto accident. Rather than halt his boozing, his paralysis fed it; for its roots, he explains, were in a childhood scarred by family alienation (as the only adopted kid in a household of five natural ones) and brutal parochial-school training (one of the more than 60 b&w cartoons scattered throughout depicts the author as a boy, watched by a ruler-wielding nun and writing on a blackboard: "I am personally responsible for the agony of Christ"). By the time of the accident, Callahan was drinking all day, every day; and continued to do so until age 27, when he swore sobriety and entered A.A. Much of the latter half of Callahan's life story deals with the wonders of A.A., and with his bittersweet search for his natural parents (he tracked down both; both were dead)—but what will interest most readers is the nitty-gritty of how Callahan has dealt physically and psychically with his paralysis. Wrapped in stinging humor, here is the lowdown on how Callahan handles: dependence on others; tedium: bathroom functions and sex (Callahan's sex life is, and has always been, very active); the stress of being disabled (he winds up with a guide, "How to Relate to Handicapped People," which includes such questions as "You should not sing which song to a double-arm amputee: 'Georgia'; 'I'm a Little Teapot': 'Blowing in the Wind' "). Admirably tough and honest: an unusual and enjoyable autobiography that helps lift the veil on handicapped life. Read full book review >