You have not a leg to stand on

1 Feb

I was recently sent a copy of D.D. Mayers’ autobiographical book: You have not a leg to stand on to review. All opinions about this book are my own.

notaleg

I understood that it was an autobiographical account of a man’s life following paralysis, but apart from that, I didn’t have a lot of information. My initial assumption was that the book would focus on the writer’s life after his accident, but I was proved wrong.

My expectation was that the narrative would focus on Mayers’ life after his accident, but it covers his entire life. At times I was frustrated by the fractured sequence of events, however in the end this structure lured me in and made me want to read on. I think perhaps I just needed to change my mindset, when I mentally recategorised the book as ‘memoirs’ instead of an autobiography then it met my expectations!

The descriptions of life in Kenya and the other places that Mayers visited (such as the Scottish Highlands) are evocative and made me want to visit those locations. However, I really wanted to see a few pictures of the places mentioned in the book and the ‘characters’ as this really helps me to visualise everything that is being described. Since reading the book, I’ve found D.D. Mayers’ blog, which includes some wonderful photographs: http://ddmayers.tumblr.com/

An additional layer of interest for me was D.D. Mayers’ social class. He is not a boastful man, but he is definitely used to living in a manner to which most of us are not accustomed. This meant that the book gave me a glimpse into the upperclasses that I would otherwise not have had.

A strength of this book is Mayers’ brutal honesty about his paralysis – how it affected him mentally and also the physical challenges that he faces. I’ve read other accounts of people’s lives after serious accidents and they tend to be relentlessly upbeat about how they went on to achieve bigger and better things than they thought possible before their disability, so it’s refreshing to read something that gives stark facts.

A minor criticism of this book is that I wanted to know a little more about the author – the reader only learns that he is ‘D.D. Mayers’. I wanted to know his first name, or at least whether he is known as ‘D.D.’ to his friends.  Finally, Mayers frequently describes his wife as ‘little woman’, which does not sit well with my modern feminist views… however, he does clearly state that it is his term of endearment of her and is not intended to be offensive. I’m not sure that makes it acceptable, but at times it is important to recognise that different generations can have very different viewpoints.

Overall, I found this book really interesting. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down (so much so that I was late for work one morning – oops!) There is so much more that I could say about Mayers’ autobiograpy, but I don’t want to write any spoilers, so I’d urge you to get a copy and find out for yourself!

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