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Waist-high in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Nancy Mairs
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 1997
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.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; large type edition edition (Feb 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807070866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807070864
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,866,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Publisher

Recent Review
"Anybody, whether disabled or not, can benefit from this book, written as a celebration of tenacity and spirit, and in the hope that the world, and not necessarily our bodies, can change." -Petra Kuppers, The American Reporter --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary essays on life with disability 28 Aug 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Nancy Mairs writes that there is a "tangle of reasons" why readers might want to read this book. She writes for readers who crave to know more about life with multiple sclerosis and depression (her own diseases) or life with disability in general -- although she says she can't offer generalizations. I found the essays the most compelling when they were the most personal and unflinching. Mairs also does a good job of teasing out the issues in "right to die" and quality of life controversies. Altogether, a satisfying and thought-provoking read for anyone who would like to encounter a fiercely independent and often joyous woman who declares herself a "cripple."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of a disabled person within society 7 May 2012
By Edna85
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book in less than two days as it was difficult to put down. Reading the book is like a conversation with Nancy. It flows well and is extremly interesting. I am a researcher within disability studies and this book gave me some very different thoughts about the subject. Nancy didn't just cover how the built environment can be disabling but went much further into the socio-economics of why people with disabilities in the US have difficulties within society.

Nancy gives her own experiences on having MS and the experiences within society that come with it. From a lack of disability access to socio-cultural attitudes linked to people with disabilities in society. Although about MS it covers a lot of the issues most challenges people with disabilities face within society, but still showed how disability should be viewed homogenously.

As her disability is an aquired disability (the symptoms began to show when she was 29) Nancy writes well about how the onset of MS and how its progression has affected her family life. She includes the attitudes of some of her relatives and how her husband is now her carer.

She writes about the different ethical dilemmmas often associated with disability such as the right to die and pre-natal screening. Nancy gives a good argument to both these dilemmas and how they affect people with disabilities within society.

In the end chapters Nancy wrfites about how she does not consider herself a 'western writer' and why. She explores how western writers have wrote and how there is often a lack of of writing about disability.

An excellent read and great for anyone interested in disability studies or sociology. Or just a good read on disability awareness.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating honesty 11 Mar 2001
By Robert Dorroh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Reviewer: robert dorroh from Sonora, CA United States Nancy Mairs, with devastating honesty, chronicles life as a cripple (her choice of word) in poignant essays in "Waist High in the World."
Beset with multiple sclerosis and bouts with clinical and situational depression, she offsets these stumbling blocks with joy, candor, eloquence, and cultural and political insights. It is a book for everybody, not just the disabled, for it challenges our fears, cultural hangups and citizenship: "The more perspectives that can be brought to bear on human experience, even from the slant of a wheelchair or a hospital bed, or through the ears of a blind person or the fingers of someone who is deaf, the richer that experience becomes." She attacks the stereotype that cripples must be passive and unfailingly polite in a culture that doesn't want to deal with them: "Beyond cheerfulness and patience, people don't expect much of a cripple's character."
Pondering her husband and caretaker George's battle with cancer, she offers a balanced look at suicide in the face of his death. Though she has attempted suicide "more than once," she questions the right-to-die movement, which extolls "rational" suicide: "Since hopelessness is a distinctive symptom of depression, which is an emotional disorder, actions carried out in a despairing state seem to me intrinsically irrational. This last time I clung to shreds of reason, which saved me." Still, she sees suicide as a possibility: "I want to be the one in charge of my life, including its end."
Why should society pay for the misfortunes of others? people ask. Because it's what human beings do: take care of one another, Mairs says, adding that it's the government's role to ensure that its citizens are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. Mairs notes that the abled-bodied should aim to preserve the dignity of the disabled. This takes in seeing them as sexual beings: ... "The general assumption, even among those who might be expected to know better, is that people with disabilities are out of the sexual running."
As a paraplegic, I admire her advocacy on my behalf. I admire her more, however, for her willingness to work toward the betterment of our society through a rare and gifted intelligence.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope for all of us suffering from being human 29 July 2000
By Kim Boykin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nancy Mairs writes about the human condition with humor, compassion, and ruthless honesty. This is a book of personal reflections about disability, embodiment, marriage, religion, and lots of other things, but fundamentally about the possibility of honestly acknowledging all the pain and confusion in our lives and at the same time--within that pain and confusion--living fully, gratefully, joyously.

Wow. What a gift. Thank you, Nancy Mairs.

This book and "Ordinary Time" are my favorites by Mairs.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and thought-provoking... 16 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Facing chronic disease myself, I've turned to books like this for information, comfort, challenge and ideas. Nancy Mairs is the best I've found for writing honestly about what it means for people (women in particular) to face chronic, degenerative illness. She writes from her personal experience, but I see myself in her struggles. A book to read and re-read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary essays on life with disability 28 Aug 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Nancy Mairs writes that there is a "tangle of reasons" why readers might want to read this book. She writes for readers who crave to know more about life with multiple sclerosis and depression (her own diseases) or life with disability in general -- although she says she can't offer generalizations. I found the essays the most compelling when they were the most personal and unflinching. Mairs also does a good job of teasing out the issues in "right to die" and quality of life controversies. Altogether, a satisfying and thought-provoking read for anyone who would like to encounter a fiercely independent and often joyous woman who declares herself a "cripple."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, moving and very sad 12 Jan 2006
By Fire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had to read this book for one of my women's study's classes nearly 7 years ago. It has been too long to remember much of the detail but what I do remember is the depth of the impression that was left upon me. It is a very difficult task to look at someone's life, through their eyes, and experience their total destruction of being...slow....poignant...and startlingly real.

As we discussed this book in class, one of the girls ran out in tears, later coming back and disclosing that she, too, suffered from MS, making the book that much real and impressionable for me.
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