The Two in One CL

Rod Michalko, Author
Rod Michalko, Author Temple University Press $51.5 (256p) ISBN 978-1-56639-648-6
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Michalko, a sociologist, has written an insightful memoir of how, with the aid of his guide dog, Smokie, he came to fully inhabit his blindness. Although medically diagnosed as blind when he was a child, Michalko writes that, ""from the point of view of my experience, I was not."" When he lost the rest of his sight as an adult, he writes, he had to transform not only how he did things but also how he viewed himself. As he explores his experience of blindness, Michalko recalls how, for years, he fought against the fact of his poor sight and questions his previous assumptions about his own mobility and the trials of everyday life. He found that his confidence grew with a well-trained dog at his side. ""Getting me safely where I want to go is what Smokie has done for me, and this is important. But even more important, Smokie has re-introduced me to my blindness."" Michalko presents himself on many levels: the scientist considering the meanings of social behavior toward disability; the attentive pet-caretaker describing guide dog training and funny incidents that occur during his walks with Smokie; and finally, a down-to-earth intellectual who begins to forget--after decades of near-sightlessness--that he has a disability. He writes movingly about how, through his relationship with Smokie, he came to view blindness not just as a lack of sight but as something in itself, a condition with its own properties. In so doing, he invites us to rethink the very nature of disability. (Dec.)
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