Meditations from a Movable Chair

Andre Dubus, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (210p) ISBN 978-0-679-43108-4
The 1986 highway accident that resulted in Dubus being largely confined to a wheelchair is an event that is by now familiar to readers of his award-winning short stories (Dancing After Hours, etc.) and previous collection of personal essays (Broken Vessels, 1991). In these 25 spare and luminous essays, most of which have previously appeared in magazines like the New Yorker, Harper's and Yankee, the author lingers over experiences past and present, from the everyday trials of life in a wheelchair to his thoughts on being a writer, a divorced Catholic and father. ""Song of Pity"" combines simmering rage at public indifference to the handicapped (""newspaper[s] would not review a restaurant that was accessible only to Caucasians, or only to men"") with recollections of an earlier time when he was the one pushing a wheelchair: ""I spoke to the back of his head, and he spoke to the cold air in front of him."" Other essays recall his encounters as a young writer with Kurt Vonnegut and Ralph Ellison in Iowa City, and Norman Mailer, whom he meets at the Algonquin during a whirlwind trip to New York to meet with his editor in 1967. In Dubus's sharply distilled prose, these meditations are as starkly tangible as they are resonant, providing a vision of his own life before and after the accident, a life united finally by a passion for love, life and craft. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Hardcover - 245 pages - 978-0-7862-1723-6
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-679-75115-1
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