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Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot Paperback – April 14, 1990
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-- P.J.,O'Rourke, author of Holidays in Hell
"Actually Callahan goes too far, and he'll take you with him.... He'll move muscles you don't know you have." -- Roy Blount, Jr.
"John Callahan doesn't need feet to go far. He does it with guts, brains, fingers, and a wonderful sick sense of humor."
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Top Customer Reviews
The opener sets the tone: "On the last day I walked, I woke up without a hangover. I was still loaded from the night before." On one level it's the story of his life. We watch as he becomes addicted to chemicals at a very early age, starting with alcohol at twelve. We watch him cruising through his teen years, experimenting with other drugs. We learn about his adoptive family dynamics, his Catholic upbringing, his alienation from his father, how he was with friends, and his resentment towards his birth mother, who he feels abandoned him.
The last day he walked he was twenty-one. He and his buddy, also drunk and the driver, left a topless bar and drove into a utility pole at ninety. Callahan takes the reader through the most vivid description I've ever read of what it is like to become paralyzed in all four limbs, have sex as a person with quadriplegia, what the rehabilitation process entails, and how difficult re-entry is. For the first time I began to understand how critical a personal care assistant is for a person with quadriplegia, and how dealing with the vagaries of a state welfare program can virtually make or break one's ability to function.
He shares unusually open insights into his involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous, and his successful struggle to control his addiction, his triumph over self-pity. We follow his intense and persistent search for his birth mother, and his reconciliation with old friends and his adoptive family.
And finally, we see a gifted cartoonist and writer hone his skills, submit his work, and be rejected.Read more ›
The stories are very compelling; beginning with the car accident that left Callahan crippled and moving back (to his upbringing in an adoptive Irish Catholic family in Oregon) and forth (to his search for his biological mother), with keen insights along the way (such as the irony of how our welfare system discourages the handicapped from trying to become productive members of society -- with specific examples) and ending with a day-in-the-life snapshot. All throughout, we are treated to Callahan's illustrations and cartoons.
The narrative is every bit as raw as his cartoons. He doesn't sugar coat his alcoholism; nor does he shirk from talking about his relationship with The Big G as he tried to kick the bottle (uh... figuratively speaking, of course). He describes unflinchingly the bad things he'd done as well as the good; there is no sense of self-pity or holier-than-thou coming through. This is one of the few books I've picked up lately that demanded my full attention.
John Callahan emerges from this book as a very interesting man; a flawed hero worthy of our attention. I highly recommend it, and I'll be reading his follow up (Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?) next.
At 23, also in a car accident, I became a member of the very unpopular club that John Callahan joined, a quadriplegic, although I have slightly more use of my arms.
I'd always been a very funny guy prior to my accident and subsequent to becoming paralyzed, black humor became a tool I used to put people at ease about my disability. I became an attorney after my accident, which only provided me with even more ways to utilize that sort of humor.
Over the years, in addition, I accumulated many humorous versions of relating the rather horrific and terribly frustrating events which had occurred to me over the years, many of which are, invariably, the same as Callahan's, e.g. problems with attendant care, dealing with various governmental beaurocaries, inopportune bodily function accidents, etc.
Within a few years after my paralysis, I'd almost become a "sit-down" comic with my repertoire of stories that "really shouldn't" be laughed at, let alone so loudly. I was more and more frequently told I should write my autobiography. However, having already read this book by John Callahan, I would thank the person and then inform them there was no point, as the definitive biography of a quadriplegic, covering the "Rehab" process, frustrations with governmental agencies and the Achilles Heel, attendant care, had already been written.
I kept 4 extra copies of this book, which I've leant out over the years, until all 4 copies have gradually disappeared. Many people have been educated as to some of the insanity of my everyday existence, but now have also come to understand why I'm a bit unbalanced. They now also know why I've not bothered to write my own version, as it would be so much work, and its already been done..
It would be easy to dismiss this as a humor book, or a self-help book, or as just another biography of someone who has overcome adversity, but in truth it is a book about a man who could be anyone of us. It is not a matter of "There but for the grace of God..." but that we are all, like him, just people trying to find our way in this world. Some of us eat too much, some work to hard, some drink.
It's John's story of his recovery which makes me recommend this book so highly. He takes the reader through his worst crashes and every painful moment of his time in AA so that we truly feel and understand what it means to have a bottle in charge of your life.
If you have a drinking problem yourself, or know someone who does, I would, to paraphrase John, take them by the fastest transportation available to the nearest copy of this book. It is definately worth the read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Maybe Callahan didn't get far on foot, but he sure got far in life. As a Portland resident with the same last name …. also in a wheelchair, how could I resist reading it? Read morePublished 11 months ago by Puddletown Sue
Don’t Worry... is the troubling, emotional, and evocative autobiography of the shock-cartoonist John Callahan wrote at thirty-nine about his accident, alcoholism, and life leading... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Garrett Zecker
This was a book I didn't want to read because it was a tad too offensive but I read it to the end. You can't help but laugh. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Virginia Furney
I loved this book. It's been a while since I read it, but I remember it very well, it is the kind of memoir you won't soon forget. Read morePublished on May 5, 2012 by K. Rusinack
I've read a fair number of stories about substance abuse by people both unknown and famous (rock star biographies are nothing if not diaries of substance abuse), and I gotta hand... Read morePublished on February 14, 2008 by buddyhead