Carnal Acts: Essays


Acclaimed personal writing from one of our most outspoken essayists, on disability, on family, on being an impolite woman, and on the opportunities and “gifts” of a difficult life.

Explores the challenges of living with multiple sclerosis.

Read More Show Less
... See more details below
$19.07 price
(Save 9%)$21.00 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (24) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $12.32   
  • Used (16) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Acclaimed personal writing from one of our most outspoken essayists, on disability, on family, on being an impolite woman, and on the opportunities and “gifts” of a difficult life.

Explores the challenges of living with multiple sclerosis.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Eloquent and remarkable. . . .I closed Carnal Acts feeling a hundred times more prepared for whatever perils and joys lie ahead of me. —Barbara Kingsolver

"The heart of the book is the story of a highly intelligent and witty woman dealing with multiple sclerosis, a woman living in the grip of fear, confronting that fear and pushing through the terror to find joy. It is above all for this story—for the author's ability to see life whole—that the book should be read."—Laurie Graham, New York Times Book Review

"A seamlessly constructed mix of autobiographical data, keyhole peeking, anger, affection and sheer grit."—Carol Freundlich, Bloomsbury Review

"Mairs writes . . . with scrupulous, sometimes discomforting honesty—and often with an unruly wit. . . . Let us hope she will do so again." —Janet Kaye, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Library Journal
Comprising previously published columns, ``working'' essays, and a short story, this collection provides a clear and trenchant portrait of a literary woman working within the context of both our shared contemporary culture and a personal physical disability. As in Remembering the Bone House (LJ 4/1/89), Mairs provides an unflinching analysis of the effects of multiple sclerosis on her personal, professional, and emotional life. While each of these pieces may best be read alone, together they succeed in announcing a coherent and compelling consciousness of the effects and countereffects of physical limitation, social trust, fear, and courage. For creative writing collections as well as libraries serving caretakers, families, and afflicted persons--in short, for most general readers.--Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., Cal.
Janet Kaye
Mairs writes... with scrupulous, sometimes discomforting honesty - and often with an unruly wit... let us hope she will do so again.
&#!51; Los Angeles Times Book Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807070857
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 6/30/1996
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 172
  • Sales rank: 956,260
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Table of Contents

But First, 1
Shape 19
"Hers" Columns 31
On Uttering the Unspeakable 53
Faith and Loving in Las Vegas 65
Carnal Acts 81
Challenge: An Exploration 97
Doing It the Hard Way 107
Good Enough Gifts 117
I'm Afraid. I'm Afraid. I'm Afraid. 135
Where I Never Dreamed I'd Go, and What I Did There 147
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)