From Publishers Weekly
Chorost had been severely hearing impaired since birth when, one morning in 2001, his remaining hearing suddenly and inexplicably shut down. Fortunately for Chorost, cochlear implants have progressed to the point where people formerly isolated from everyday sounds can hear leaves rustle as they walk through them. A tiny device, the technological equivalent of a 286 computer, was surgically implanted behind the author's left ear. A magnetic headpiece sticks to his head over the implant, with a wire connected to a speech processor on his belt. As Chorost makes clear, his hearing wasn't restored; it was replaced. His body is now part "machine." The implant was only the first step of the author's learning to hear again, as his brain struggled to interpret the new electrical signals it was receiving. Chorost, who conducts research in educational technology, faced problems with activities most people take for granted: talking on a cell phone or carrying on a conversation in a crowded room. He recounts with candor and humor his struggles with relationships, both casual and intimate. Readers will find much food for thought on the implications of medical technology and what constitutes our humanity in this beautifully written debut.
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In Chorost's memoir about his hearing loss, he prefaces the operating-room experience and activation of a cochlear implant with a recollection of his childhood diagnosis in the late 1960s of a severe hearing deficit, probably caused by rubella fever. In 2001, Chorost abruptly went totally deaf. Portraying his recovery, Chorost imagines his body as the playing field pitting human against mechanical qualities, describing what it's like to be controlled by a computer. He relays his perception of the sound created by the cochlear implant, re-creates conversations and music, and tells how each software upgrade to the implant affected his experiences. His social interactions were also changed by the mechanical device, and he muses on his fortunes in navigating the dating scene. An artfully frank account, Chorost's story will vitally engage people interested in the increasingly prevalent surgical procedure. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved