A touching look at the effect stereotypical attitudes have on the disabled.

My Extraordinary Life

A poignant memoir about the author’s struggles as a congenital amputee.

Born with no legs and only one arm, Sucha Vickers is all too familiar with the physical hardships facing disabled people. In her insightful memoir, she also details her confrontations with able-bodied stereotypes targeting the disabled. “[T]he absolute worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you,” she writes in her typical matter-of-fact style. Vickers believes her disability is the result of her mother taking the anti–morning sickness drug thalidomide while pregnant with her—“She spent a lifetime wishing she could have that one swallow back.” As a child “quite oblivious to the fact that [she] was different,” Vickers took to heart her father’s advice: “Try it first and if you can’t do it, then ask for help.” She could even play baseball and type as fast as her classmates in high school. Reality began to creep in when, as a young adult, she was denied a promotion because her supervisors feared her physical appearance would be a “turn-off” for future job applicants. “I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck,” the author recalls of experiencing “discrimination in its purest form.” While trying to “live normally in the able-bodied world,” she learned, she says, that “to some people I would never be anything more than the stereotype they created in their mind.” Often, she can’t seem to bridge “the huge gap between what people assume about me and the person I really am.” She nonetheless maintains a remarkably positive outlook: “I do have an extraordinary life.” Vickers wrote this book to keep a promise to her late grandmother, who had been a major influence on her. She’d be proud of how her granddaughter has so effectively helped people see the disabled as they really are—beyond their bodies.

A touching look at the effect stereotypical attitudes have on the disabled.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479760480

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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