Disability Representation in Literature:  Beyond “The Fries Test”

Disability Representation in Literature:  Beyond “The Fries Test”

As a disabled writer, for over two decades I’ve looked at how disability is represented in our literature. This interest has taken me across the globe, with a special focus in disability representation in Japan, and more recently in Germany. I’ve taught classes and given talks on disability representation at many universities and conferences in North America, Japan, and Europe.

Toiling in the Labyrinth: On Reading Literature Critically

Toiling in the Labyrinth: On Reading Literature Critically

My purpose for reading literature critically rests on two sloping planes. On the first plane is pleasure—experiencing the epiphany of understanding, a resolution to my inquiring mind. In other words, the Aha! moment. It’s the immediate gratification of critical thinking, which may be a purpose in of itself. However, beneath that first pleasurable plane, for me, is the second, more self-reflective plane.

From Fear to Yearning to Write Fiction Now

From Fear to Yearning to Write Fiction Now

“Fiction is the art form of human yearning.” – Robert Olen Butler
“We are living in the most fearmongering time in human history.” – Barry Glassner
“I think what we need to do is to remind people that the Earth is a very dangerous place these days. That ISIS is trying to do us harm. And that the president’s commitment is to keep the country safe.” – Sean Spicer

What Is Writing For?

What Is Writing For?

What is writing for?
 
I confess that, after having taught creative writing for more than 35 years and read tons of student writing I don’t remember and tons of good and great books by good and great authors I also don’t remember, I sometimes find myself wondering if we really need any more new writing.

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

Twenty years ago, I edited Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, the first commercially published multi-genre anthology of writers with disabilities writing about disability. The anthology was published by Plume. In the introduction, I wrote: “Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stared out. Now, here in these pages — in literature of inventive form, at times harrowingly funny, at times provocatively wise — writers with disabilities affirm our lives by putting the world on notice that we are staring back.”

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Moving back to London requires minimal adjustment, it’s as easy (as a writer once said about revision, compared to first draft composing) as sliding into a bath of warm oatmeal. No culture shock save for the first instant of wondering why dogs and babies are driving cars; all you have to do is exercise a little preliminary caution crossing the street and you’re done. Or maybe some mild culture shock, over here in the Land of Other People’s Problems, to learn exactly what the tabloid media judges important. “Horror on No. 77!” shrieks the top headline in the Evening Standard, the free newspaper everyone reads on the Tube going home after work.

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