Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled

Overview

In a blend of intimate memoir and passionate advocacy, Nancy Mairs takes on the subject woven through all her writing: disability and its effect on life, work, and spirit.

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Waist-High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled

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Overview

In a blend of intimate memoir and passionate advocacy, Nancy Mairs takes on the subject woven through all her writing: disability and its effect on life, work, and spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Graceful yet gritty paradoxes drive this extraordinary book, which uses the author's degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, as a window into a very particular soul. . . . Let the reader understand: this is not a book about MS, or about illness; rather, it's a chronicle of inspired adaptation, spiritual as well as physical, to limits. The aim is the creation of joy. -Sallie Bingham, The New Mexican

"Woe is not her, as she makes clear throughout this absorbing, laceratingly honest book. . . . This social construction of disability . . . is what Mairs most wants us to 'get' in this passionate, penetrating book-and then get over." -Marian Sandmeier, The Washington Post Book World

"Vintage Mairs: sharply observed, deeply personal and always direct." -Michael Haederle, Los Angeles Times

"As helpful as Mairs's book will be to disabled people, what's most important about it is its lessons for able-bodied readers." -Kathi Wolfe, The Progressive

"Rich, startling and utterly absorbing." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Mairs's physical view of the world may be waist-high, but her intellectual and spiritual range is limitless." -Donna Seaman, Booklist, starred review

"'One sharp instrument is left me: my tongue.' This [Mairs] wields like a finely crafted baton, leading her readers to an ever deeper understanding of the human condition." -Yvonne Duffy, Detroit Free Press

Sallie Bingham
Graceful yet gritty paradoxes drive this extraordinary book, which uses the author's degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, as a window into a very particular soul....Let the reader understand: this is not a book about MS, or illness; rather, it's a chronicle of inspired adaption, spiritual as well as physical...The aim is the creation of joy.
The New Mexican
Donna Seaman
Mairs's physical view of the world may be waist-high, but her intellectual and spiritual range is limitless.
Booklist
Kathy Wolfe
As helpful as Mairs's book will be to disable people, what's most important about it is its lessons for able-bodied readers.
The Progressive
Marian Sandmeier
Woe is not her, as she makes clear throughout this absorbing, laceratingly honest book.…This social construction of disability…is what Mairs most wants us to "get" in this passionate, penetrating book—and then get over.
The Washington Post Book World
Michael Haederle
Vintage Mairs: sharply observed, deeply personal and always direct.
Los Angeles Times
Kirkus Reviews
Ten more striking essays from the remarkable author of Ordinary Time (1993) and Voice Lessons (1994).

A bare-bones description of Mairs's situation—she has severe multiple sclerosis that is progressively worsening, and her caretaker husband has cancer with an uncertain prognosis—might well deter the reader anxious to avoid either a depressing soap opera or a sentimental feel-good book. Happily, this is neither. "I ask you to read this book," says Mairs, "not to be uplifted, but to be lowered and steadied into what may be unfamiliar, but is not inhospitable, space." With wit, wisdom, and candor she contemplates the body and world she inhabits. Among her concerns are sex, language, mobility, the rights of the disabled, caregiving and caretaking, euthanasia, and abortion, especially the implications for the disabled of the right to abort a fetus known to be defective. There's a certain amount of adventure here too, for which Mairs's wry tone is wonderfully apt. When she takes part in an undercover operation to gather evidence concerning a scam to bilk thousands of dollars from MS victims, truth and justice are among the losers. When she and her husband and daughter decide to take a week's vacation in New Mexico in a rental vehicle soon dubbed "the Camper from Hell," the results are both poignant and comic. Perhaps the most unforgettable adventure, if one can call it that, is a day she spends alone when caretaking arrangements fall apart. Such seemingly simple tasks as taking a shower and fixing a lunch are revealed to be, for her, astonishingly intricate undertakings.

At one point Mairs asserts that "this is no piteously deprived state I'm in down here but a rich, complicated, and utterly absorbing process of immersion in whatever the world has to offer." What she offers here is a rich, startling, and utterly absorbing view of that world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807070871
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 12/28/1997
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,028,797
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Mairs is author of several acclaimed books, including Ordinary Time, Carnal Acts, Remembering the Bone House, and Plaintext. Visit Nancy Mairs' website: www.nancymairs.com.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    Amazing read!

    I am half-way through and amazed by how elegantly nancy shapes her devastating condition --- a condition is intrinsic to her selfhood and relationships.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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