EASY WALKING by Jonathan Lewis Nasaw
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Every four hours they spin me around like a goddamn spitted chicken"" -- that's Willie Nasaw, back broken, strapped to a Stryker frame, the no-body feeling of drugs alternating with fear that ""comes with consciousness, poking up like a crocus."" The nightmare of the next six months -- four hospitals, three operations, IVs, urine bottles, collapsed veins, catheters, casts, braces, crutches will not subside. A tough, brilliant, lacerating book, Willie's record of his nights and days in The Bedchamber of the Royal Cripples is filled with the remorseless perceptions of a strong, independent twenty-year-old boy ejected into a world of human freaks and basket cases. Compassion only goes so far before revulsion takes over and Willie experiences ""a slight curdling of the milk of human kindness"" in the Rehab Center dining room where aphasia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, diabetes and, of course, paraplegia all gather to feast. ""Just wait it out,"" he is advised by a roommate in one hospital where the ketchup is brown and there are cockroaches on the greying sheets. ""Wait what out?"" ""The rest of your life,"" comes the matter-of-fact answer. Willie chooses to fight it out. Physical therapy during the day; the blessed relief of getting stoned at night. And the recurrent fantasies of Cripple Willie forever to be pitied -- ""I wondered whether FDR could fuck."" A devastating book -- the more so because Willie's heroism is so self-deprecating, his style so nonchalant, even flippant.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1975
Publisher: Lippincott