Friday, April 29, 2011

Giuseppe Pontiggia, "Born Twice"

I recently picked up the English translation of the Italian novel Nati due volte by the late Giuseppe Pontiggia, because it seemed like my kind of subject--the narrator is a father whose second son has cerebral palsy. It's not so much a novel as a series of vignettes, thirty-eight scenes across the son's first three decades, in the father's marriage and work lives. I have no way to judge whether the translation is a good one, but some of the observations are very sharp, unsentimental, like this description of another parent, a mother in a parent support group:
Her son's case is not serious; he has trouble walking, and physiotherapy alone will probably take care of it. She tends to observe us with careful and detached curiosity, like a first-class traveler visiting the third-class deck. She never neglects to mention the minor nature of her son's condition. When we're discussing the most difficult cases she opens her eyes wide in a kind of theatrical solidarity, but you can tell that hearing other people's stories simply offers her yet another form of reassurance. (p. 69 in my copy, at the beginning of the chapter titled "Pleasure Island")
Yep. Met her, or at least met her American sisters (and brothers). Other standout chapters for me were focused on the son's school principal, a visit with a dementia specialist, and a lot of the conversations with the son (Paolo) as a teen and young man. The title phrase, Born Twice, refers to a counselor's advice that "These children are born twice. They have to learn to get by in a world that their first birth made difficult for them. Their second birth depends on you, on what you can give them...." I remember being aware of that, when my son was first born. I had been a teacher, I knew full well that birth didn't have the last word on anyone's outcomes in life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Long overdue updates...

Goldfish called me "a real community blogger" back in January, but I haven't been doing a very good job of that lately! A few efforts to make up for that:

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2011

The SIXTH annual Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) is coming up on May 1 (a Sunday this year), coordinated as always by Goldfish. We've participated every other round, and I'll try to get something ready for this year too--but that's one day of the year you never need to worry about finding amazing blogging on disability culture, disability rights, and the disability experience. Join in by following the directions at the link above.

There was no Disability Blog Carnival this month, but check out the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival or the Chronic Babe Carnival for all your link-love needs. Also, the next Blog Carnival of Mental Health should post on April 30th, so that's coming up soon (submissions requested by April 27).