cover image Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir

Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir

James Tate Hill. Norton, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-86717-6

Essayist Hill (Academy Gothic) shares a stirring if meandering story about losing his sight. At age 16, he was diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy and deemed legally blind. When asked about what he can and can’t see, Hill writes, “The short answer is this: I don’t see what I directly look at.” While his narrative sometimes digresses into tangents about unrelated childhood crushes and his mom’s Weight Watchers meetings, humor buoys his account as he lays bare his attempts hide his legal blindness in a sighted world. He’d arrive early for dates so he could be found first; memorized buttons on the microwave and the route to the convenience store; and even entered a creative writing program where classmates, unaware of his blindness, attributed his unapproachability to him being “an asshole.” Eventually he met and married a fellow MFA student, but their relationship buckled under his denial about his disability (“I will not help you hide your blindness from the world,” his wife wrote to him before their divorce). In the wake of their split, Hill struggled to write about his condition—“the thought of readers... knowing I was blind, disabled, felt like the opposite of why I chose to be a writer”—but after finding love again, his reluctance gave way to self-acceptance. This moving account doesn’t disappoint. (July)