Prepare to have your responses to dwarfism challenged. If as a psychomechanic Richardson is learning as he goes, he’s fully capable of administering a realignment of perception.
Richardson (The Viper’s Club, not reviewed) sets sail here at a Little People of America convention where, on assignment for Esquire, he zeros in on a few of the participants to help him get his sea legs in a radically different world of “threshold” people that consists most notably of: Michael, roué, mover, and shaker; Andrea, tart, challenging, relentless; and Evelyn and Jocelyn, sufferers of domestic and surgical travails that give the narrative its specific gravity and command most of its pages. In all, the group turns out to be a demanding lot, forcing Richardson to answer for each word he uses in his article. He stays in touch with his subjects after publication, and they in turn keep him busy and on his toes, for if there is one thing that distinguishes Richardson, aside from his pleasurable alfresco style, it’s remarkably impulsive honesty. How else could he possibly blurt such phrases as the “liberating delight that comes from encountering intelligent humanity in such inappropriate packages” or write about “the secret whispers of the fearful human heart . . . that there is some kind of justice in the world”—that is, touch on the suggestion that dwarfism is the wages of sin? Naturally enough, such things get him into hot water with Andrea et al., even when he makes forays into the philosophy of beauty, explaining how impossible it is for him “to sniff away its terrible power.” On the other hand, his correctives are insistent, castigating us for enjoying our feelings of pity (“poor little thing”) or indulging in saccharine admiration (“she’s so brave”).
A potent cocktail of impressions and of “exploding normative thinking” as Richardson makes his way through the Little World. (b&w photographs)