Planet of the Blind

Stephen Kuusisto, Author
Stephen Kuusisto, Author Dial Press $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-31615-6
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-385-33327-6
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The sightless Kuusisto escorts readers across the planet of the blind on a somber, exquisitely phrased, ultimately uplifting visit. So powerful is his narration that it will alter the reader's perceptions of blindness. Almost totally sightless since his birth in 1955 in New Hampshire, son of a mother who was so involved in the spirit world she failed to notice the severity of her son's lack of vision, and whose professor father was not educated in sensitive parenting, Kuusisto struggled to ""pass"" as sighted throughout childhood, college, a Fulbright study in Finland and several years of primary-school teaching. His agonies are made even more palpable by the cruelty he encountered, like one instructor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop who berated Kuusisto for his slowness. Not until his late 30s did the author realize that by pretending to be independent he inflicted a heavy responsibility on strangers. At the time he was living in a bedroom community of New York City and was in a panic over finding a job. Then he made the momentous decision to get a guide dog. As we witness his training with Corky, a yellow Labrador retriever, we feel Kuusisto's exhilaration and are assured that he is only just beginning to achieve his life's potential. (Jan.)
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