On Mother’s Day 2004 Henny Beaumont gave birth to her third child. For the first few hours, her baby seemed no different to her two other little girls.
With stunning art and refreshing honesty, Henny describes how family life changed the moment the registrar told her and her husband that their daughter might have Down’s Syndrome. She knew that her life was over. How can this weak little baby, who would demand so much more from Henny than her other two children, and who would need an operation in order to survive, provoke such feelings of hatred and resentment? How can Henny learn to love her? And if she can’t trust her own reactions to Beth, how can she expect other people to overcome their prejudices and ignorance about her condition?
Robert Murphy was in the prime of his career as an anthropologist when he felt the first symptom of a malady that would ultimately take him on an odyssey stranger than any field trip to the Amazon: a tumor of the spinal cord that progressed slowly and irreversibly into quadriplegia. In this gripping account, Murphy explores society’s fears, myths, and misunderstandings about disability, and the damage they inflict. He reports how paralysis like all disabilities assaults people’s identity, social standing, and ties with others, while at the same time making the love of life burn even more fiercely.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company;
When Oliver Sacks, a physician by profession, injured his leg while climbing a mountain, he found himself in an unusual position – that of patient. The injury itself was severe, but straightforward to fix; the psychological effects, however, were far less easy to predict, explain, or resolve: Sacks experienced paralysis and an inability to perceive his leg as his own, instead seeing it as some kind of alien and inanimate object, over which he had no control. A Leg to Stand On is both an account of Sacks’ ordeal and subsequent recovery, and an exploration of the ways in which mind and body are inextricably linked.
“In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on a 500cc Norton. One of them was the twenty-three-year-old Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these are the diaries of Che Guevara, full of disasters and discoveries, high drama and laddish improvisations. Touring through Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, his greatest concerns are where the next drink is coming from, where the next bed is to be found and who might be around to share it. Within a decade Che Guevara would be a household name. His trip might have been the adventure of a lifetime – had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure.”
“Since it was first published in 1995, The Wounded Storyteller has occupied a unique place in the body of work on illness. Both the collective portrait of a so-called “remission society” of those who suffer from some type of illness or disability and a cogent analysis of their stories within a larger framework of narrative theory, Arthur W. Frank’s book has reached a large and diverse readership including the ill, medical professionals, and scholars of literary theory.
Drawing on the work of authors such as Oliver Sacks, Anatole Broyard, Norman Cousins, and Audre Lorde, as well as from people he met during the years he spent among different illness groups, Frank recounts a stirring collection of illness stories, ranging from the well-known—Gilda Radner’s battle with ovarian cancer—to the private testimonials of people with cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and disabilities. Their stories are more than accounts of personal suffering: they abound with moral choices and point to a social ethic.”
Publisher: University of Chicago Press (2nd edition)
Some call him ‘backward’, some say he’s ‘handicapped’, and others just think of him as a joke. But Walter’s parents stand between him and the world. Till one day Jesus comes and takes Eric away and not long after that He comes for Sarah, too. Walter prays to Jesus, asking Him to change His mind- and then Walter and the pigeons sit in Sarah’s room, waiting for her to wake up.
‘The doctor was fated to go back to Bombay; he would keep returning again and again – if not forever, at least for as long as there were dwarves in the circus.’
Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr Farrokh Daruwalla is a Canadian citizen – a 59-year-old orthopaedic surgeon, living in Toronto. Once, twenty years ago, Dr Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, two decades later, the doctor will be reacquainted with the murderer…
Publisher: Black Swan
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they’ll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn’t know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss’s daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him …
When she was just two years old, Laura Bridgman lost her sight, her hearing, and most of her senses of smell and taste. At the time, no one believed a child with such severe disabilities could be taught to communicate, much less lead a full and productive life. But then a progressive doctor, who had just opened the country’s first school for the blind in Boston, took her in. Laura learned to communicate, read, and write—and eventually even to teach. By the age of 12, she was world famous.
Audiences flocked to see her, and she was loved and admired by children everywhere. This fascinating and moving biography shows how Laura Bridgman paved the way for future generations of children with disabilities, making possible important advances in the way they would be educated. As a blind person with some hearing loss, Sally Hobart Alexander lends a unique and intimate perspective to this inspiring account. At last, the story of Laura Bridgman can find its long-deserved place alongside those of Louis Braille and Helen Keller.
‘The sculpture is a portrait of Alison Lapper when she was 8½ months pregnant. It is carved out of
one block of white marble and stands 3.55 metres high. At first glance it would seem that there are few if any public sculptures of people with disabilities. However, a closer look reveals that Trafalgar Square is one of the few public spaces where one exists: Nelson on top of his column has lost an arm. I think that Alison’s portrait reactivates this dormant aspect of Trafalgar Square. Most public sculpture, especially in the Trafalgar Square and Whitehall areas, is triumphant male statuary. Nelson’s Column is the epitome of a phallic male monument and I felt that the square needed
some femininity, linking with Boudicca near the Houses of Parliament. Alison’s statue could represent a new model of female heroism.
‘In the past, heroes such as Nelson conquered the outside world. Now it seems to me they conquer their own circumstances and the prejudices of others, and I believe that Alison’s portrait will symbolise this. I’m not physically disabled myself but from working with disabled sitters I realised how hidden different bodies are in public life and media. Her pregnancy also makes this a monument to the possibilities of the future.’
Banned from airplay on the BBC in 1981 this song retains some of Dury’s enormous capacity to both provoke and entertain. ‘Spastic’ is apparently (watch out wiki-fact coming) “the second most offensive term in the UK relating to disability” (pipped by “retard”) here it is being thoroughly ‘reclaimed’.
My Left Foot is Christy Brown’s inspirational story of his early life, his battle against the restraints of cerebral palsy and his struggle to learn to read, write and paint, all with the aid of his left foot.
Author: Brown, Christy
Title: My left foot
Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition
‘When I was just forty-two I suffered a severe stroke. Paralysed on my left side and unable to walk, I was confined to hospital for three months, then spent about a year recovering, slowly getting myself back into the world. When I was seriously ill in hospital, I longed to read a book that would tell me that I might expect in convalescence and also give me something to think about. . .’
This is the story of Joseph Meehan, born cruelly handicapped and known to the world as ‘the crippled boy’. Filled with insight into the soul inside a broken body and warm with the beauties of the Irish landscape it is the story of Joseph’s fight to escape the restrictions and confines of his existence. Under the Eye of the Clock can also be read as the autobiography of its author, Christopher Nolan.
Author: Nolan, Christopher
Title: Under the eye of the clock: the life story
of Christopher Nolan