cover image Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists

Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists

George Plimpton. Random House (NY), $23 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57003-7

With Plimpton ( Out of My League ), Smith--founder of Very Special Arts, which offers people with disabilities opportunities in the arts--presents interviews with artists who lead creative and fulfilling lives despite severe handicaps. Painter Chuck Close is almost totally paralyzed because of a collapsed spinal artery; writer Reynolds Price has been confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain since undergoing radiation treatment for spinal cancer; Jack Hofiss, director of The Elephant Man , became paralyzed after a swimming accident; Michael Naranjo, a sculptor, is blind. In telling their stories, they concentrate on their aspirations and achievements rather than on their disabilities, demonstrating the power of art to help people overcome tremendous odds. Useful appendices include a glossary of terms relating to disabilities, descriptions of the mental and physical impairments that affect some 43 million Americans, an outline of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and lists of disability organizations and programs sponsored by Very Special Arts. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)