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THE SECRET LIFE OF STORIES

FROM DON QUIXOTE TO HARRY POTTER, HOW UNDERSTANDING INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY TRANSFORMS THE WAY WE READ

An academic yet concise, fresh, and deeply informed look at how we read.

How does the study of disability help us to understand stories?

In this important contribution to disability studies, literary scholar and critic Bérubé (Literature, Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities/Pennsylvania State Univ.; The Left at War, 2009, etc.) examines how characters with intellectual disabilities shape “the specific narrative they inhabit.” What can these characters know about this narrative? How can they serve as “a device for exploring the phenomenon of human sociality?” How can they inform our assumptions about “the ‘real’ and the ‘normal?’ ” Central to this inquiry is the overarching question of how to define intellectual disability. The author resists diagnosing characters and perpetuating stereotypes of such conditions as autism and Down syndrome, rather arguing that each character is distinct. He is skeptical, for example, about whether the theory of mindblindness—the inability to imagine that other people have minds—is useful for understanding autism, but he sees that a character’s “strategic adoption of mindblindness” may allow for “complex readings” of a narrative. Focusing on three themes—motive, time, and self-awareness—Bérubé analyzes a copious number of novels, plays, and movies. He assumes his readers’ familiarity not only with significant texts in disability studies, but also with the literary works he discusses, including the Harry Potter series, The Woman Warrior, The Sound and the Fury, A Wrinkle in Time, Life and Times of Michael K, Don Quixote, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Bérubé helpfully offers a synopsis of Philip K. Dick’s “little known and rarely studied Martian Time-Slip,” which he considers “one of Anglophone literature’s most fascinating attempts to textualize intellectual disability.” For Bérubé, considering such disability serves “as an invitation to…hyperattentiveness,” a way to reinvigorate perception, “to make objects unfamiliar, to render people imaginable.”

An academic yet concise, fresh, and deeply informed look at how we read.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4798-2361-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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