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TAKE IT LYING DOWN

FINDING MY FEET AFTER A SPINAL CORD INJURY

A stunning account.

“Being paralyzed was a fact I couldn’t deny but didn’t let my mind admit.” A powerful exploration of navigating physical disability.

In this lyrical account, Linnell (Emeritus, Theatre and Dance/Univ. of New Mexico; Walking on Fire: The Shaping Force of Emotion in Writing Drama, 2011) examines the seemingly mundane accident that rendered him a quadriplegic at age 70—and the aftermath of coping and rehabilitation. The author opens with a family vacation in remote Baja, Mexico, in 2012, when he was in his final year as a professor. Stepping off a porch at their rental house, he fell down and destroyed his body. Drama builds early as the family tries to locate an ambulance, arranges an airlift to Albuquerque, and then maneuvers him to a spinal cord rehabilitation center in Denver. The positioning of the broken bones meant that he would likely remain a quadriplegic. However, Linnell also learned that he had an approximate two-year window during which he might regain some of his mobility. Any reader who has experienced protracted therapy for a paralyzing injury, or has watched somebody else experience such an ordeal, will recognize the universality of Linnell’s saga even if the particulars differ. Understandably alternating among determination, hopelessness, optimism, and depression, the author rejects the label of courageous. The real heroes, he writes, are his wife and the doctors and therapists who assisted him. Every chapter is filled with memorable analogies and metaphors, making Linnell’s journey to partial recovery a pleasurable intellectual experience for readers despite the horrors, fears, and winding mental path through rehab. “I fear I will be cut loose,” he writes. “This fear grows from a train of thought that says accident is punishment. I will be discarded; every face will greet me with a dismissive pity.” Because the author was able to visit with other patients in the rehab division, readers will also learn about the variations in spinal cord trauma. Following his departure from the hospital, the narrative focus shifts toward his wife, who battled the daily challenges of helping him at home.

A stunning account.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58988-135-8

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Paul Dry Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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