Leslie Swartz, Able-Bodied: Scenes from a Curious Life
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This is a very personal book, an autobiography of sorts, by a clinical psychologist and disability researcher at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. It is written as an appreciation of his disabled father (who had club feet and a ‘funny body’) and builds around a series of long anecdotes about his eccentric family and his experiences with disability research. Deftly and entertainingly, he spins each story into a discussion of some issue in disability studies. It is possible to disentangle his arguments and elucidations from the amusing particularity of his telling, and to list his topics and points. But that is to miss the appeal of the book. Serious considerations are woven into chapters with titles like: “I was a Ninety-Seven-Pound Weakling” and “Bride of Frankenstein.”
Nevertheless, for the record, Swartz deals with the importance of the “social model” for disability advocacy and the danger of a simple opposition between “social” and “medical” models of disability. He touches on...