"MOVING VIOLATIONS: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence" by John Hockenberry
Kirkus Star

"MOVING VIOLATIONS: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence"

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In a memoir that is both funny and furious, tales of private and public adventure from a nationally known radio and TV reporter who is paralyzed from the chest down. Since an automobile accident nearly 20 years ago left Hockenberry a paraplegic, he has won national awards, including an Emmy, for his work as a journalist with National Public Radio and ABC-TV. In his wheelchair, he has reported from Somalia, Jerusalem during the intifada, and Kurdish camps on the border between Turkey and Iran following Desert Storm. He has ducked SCUD missiles in Israel and intrusive questions hurled at him by total strangers in public places. One flight attendant opened a conversation by asking, ""Have you ever thought about killing yourself?"" Her follow-up question: ""Are you able to do it with a woman?"" Hockenberry recounts a life that is full of triumph and humiliation, romance and harsh reality, inventive strategies and daily frustration. When he was studying to be a musician in college just after the accident, he invented a mouth-operated instrument that would let him control the pedals on his piano. But even his persistence hasn't found a resolution to the problem of finding a New York City taxi driver who will help him load his wheelchair in the trunk. Yet this is no simple chronicle of obstacles overcome. Hockenberry looks at himself, his family, and his surroundings with both detachment and empathy, finding kindness from Iranians even as they shouted ""Death to Americans"" and cruelty among his relatives, who buried an uncle in a mental institution for more than 30 years. He also reflects on America's disturbingly complacent view that ""normal"" is white, middle-class, and whole. Challenged and challenging, the author offers a self-portrait of a man in a wheelchair, neither hero nor poster boy, that should help to rattle stereotypes a little further.

Pub Date: July 3rd, 1995
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Hyperion