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The Best Seat in the House: How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed for Life Paperback – January 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060825294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060825294
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,030,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rucker (The Sopranos: A Family History) has written many TV shows, including the 2005 Peabody Award–winning Vietnam documentary, Two Days in October. At 51, he became a victim of transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Opening with an entertaining, sarcastic glimpse at the TV industry and his struggles to script amusing "patter for splashy Hollywood ego fests," he interrupts the fun with a chilling account of the two hours in 1996 when he suddenly became paralyzed. Learning to reprogram his life at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he felt "fear, guilt, loss, more fear" and had crying jags plus the shame and embarrassment of bowel accidents. Listing a litany of "pride-bruising indignities,"such as being gawked at and carried up stairs "like a beanbag chair," he explains how he confronted each new challenge. With many pages devoted to dealing with the "overly kind" able-bodied and their self-conscious attitudes, this potent memoir is also an effective how-to guidebook for anyone who is disabled. Rucker is a gifted observer-humorist, unleashing a straight-arrow honesty and a vibrant, penetrating wit while probing the most intimate aspects of contemporary life and human behavior. (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

TV writer Rucker likes to think he's on the cutting edge of what lies in the future for all of us. Truth be told, he is. In our hearts, we all know we will one day lose our independence to the ravages of old age and/or illness. Rucker doesn't make it seem as bad, however, as many anticipate. The limiting problem for him is transverse myelitis, which struck him from out of the blue when he was a mere 51 years old and in excellent health. In an hour and a half on a Tuesday afternoon, the able-bodied runner was thrown back to some of the physical helplessness of infancy by paralysis from the waist down. Ten years later, and with self-deprecating humor, he is able to walk--er, roll--through the ups and downs of being wheelchair bound. He has two rules: never whine, and never ask "Why me?" since that leads only to whining. He does lament the lack of positive wheelchair role models in the movies. Meanwhile, he's a good literary role model. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Allen Rucker is the author or co-author of eleven books, all of them available on amazon. A T-10 paralytic, he wrote a memoir about life about paralysis called "The Best Seat In The House" and is a contributing editor at New Mobility magazine. He lives in LA, has a wife and two grown sons, a dog named Darla, and a grand-dog named Buster

Customer Reviews

I loved this book it is very funny and one can feel the irony of his situation.
Lorie Ann Murphy
Like with most everyone else, life can be a rollercaster from good to bad, frustrating and downright soul-crushing.
R. Whitley
Anyone who doesn't fully appreciate their body, or sees only the imperfections, will find that invaluable.
Southern California Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By LacroixGrapefruit on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book everyone should read. Can't recommend it too strongly. Best Seat is an unflinching and honest examination of a personal tragedy turned into a blessing, written by a hall of fame comic writer. Fantastic book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. Austin on January 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While it's not a topic many of us wish to think about -- the potential of waking up someday with some life-altering condition that will literally force us to rethink everything about our lives and how to go about it -- this book is an incredibly worthwhile read.

As another reviewer noted, it's a great book to buy for anyone that could benefit from a little understanding of the disabled point of view. What struck me most about this book (other than the fact that I read it in two days, which is fast for me as a WAHM) was that Rucker is so open about the feelings he experienced -- and without coming across as feeling sorry for himself. Quite the contrary -- Rucker kind of seems to have used his condition as a kick in the pants for his life overall. So a pivotal event that for most others would be devastating is, for him, enlightening.

I found this book to be incredibly inspirational overall -- and I think it will find an audience with anyone who has ever wondered about the disabled person's experience.

I'll be buying this book for others for a long time to come, I think. A great, great story.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By W. King on January 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine told me about "Best Seat In The House", and said it was really, really funny. I said, "Okay, a guy wakes up one morning and he's paralyzed. How funny can that be?" Well it is funny, hilarious in places. But it's also poignant and sensible and thought-provoking and incredibly readable. I later learned that Allen Rucker was the guy who wrote "White People In America" along with Martin Mull. That was maybe the first mock documentary I ever saw, and is still the funniest. Rucker has a great take on life, and it's been fine-tuned by this paralysis in a way that's turned him into a wise philosopher with a lousy spine but a heckuva funnybone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kirk J. Faulkner on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
First off I would like to thank the author for introducing me to a new non-PC term for a group of Americans. Not that I am going to go around calling everyone in a walker a "crip" now, but it's always nice to get a chance to explore the topics. Allen brings you into a world that it would be too awkward to ask about, like rap music does for middle class white kids.

The real meat of the book though is the way Allen honestly explores dealing with catastrophe and even manages to slip in a bit of good advice that manages to never come across in a Tony Robbins-esque way. I found it very inspiring, and I don't inspire easy.

Its humor and honesty make this book a really enjoyable read. After you read it you'll never park in a handy capped space again. (Or maybe you'll start parking in them all the time. Who knows?)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rick C. Simonsen on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having just recently been told I will have to be in a wheelchair to save what is left of my legs due to polio, I was really interested in what this book had to say. I had read a review in the New Mobility magazine and it got my curiosity aroused. I ended up getting it from our local library and read it in almost one sitting! It seemed to strike a "nerve" with me - I just turned 53, having had a very busy and enjoyable life - built my own house, was a scuba diver, kayaker, bicyclist, raised two active boys, etc - then, as polio caught up to me, I am finding that I need to use more and more "help" to just get through the day. That was a very disturbing and somewhat depressing thought, to me. But, if I was going to make what I had left last for many more years, I knew I had to do it. So, I am moving into a wheelchair, using hand controls on my van, using a crutch all the time, etc. It was a bummer, in my mind. Then, along comes Allen's book and my mind was turned upside down! I found a kindred spirit in Allen, and just loved his sense of humor, his somewhat acerbic wit, and his learning to look beyond the terrible things that his body had done to him and focus on the positive things. Yes, it is not always positive, and he made that very clear, but there are ways to look at just about everything that make it easier or funnier or reflective. I found myself cheering for him when he made those "steps" of discovery - dealing with his work, his house, his wife, his mother-in-law (I was crying laughing!), his kids, his bitterness, his anger. I bought this book because I know that I will read it again and I have recommended it to many of my walking friends, as well - we all have disabilities, in one way or another, and learning to live with them is a great lesson. Allen Rucker has done that and has described a way that worked for him and will work for many others -
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Format: Hardcover
This book doesn't belong with all the somber "coping with illness" type of books. Allen Rucker's experience of the indignity and struggle of working in Hollywood alone is worth reading. After you commiserate with the dilemma that befalls Allen, and recognize how easily it could happen to any of us, anytime - we could take a nap one Tuesday and "wake up paralyzed for life" - the part that sticks with you is gratitude for the profound wake-up call you have received. It was hard to run after reading this book without thinking of Allen. Anyone who doesn't fully appreciate their body, or sees only the imperfections, will find that invaluable.

After the book came out, Allen Rucker spoke at a Writers Guild press conference on diversity, responding to a UCLA study showing the low employment of minorities in film and TV. He reminded them that the disabled are by far the largest minority in America - 56 million - yet are invisible both on TV and in the report. Allen's book is paving the way for those over 50 who are feeling increasingly invisible and are waking up to the fact that unexpected things will happen to our bodies as we age, not many of them good, and provides an inspired blueprint for dealing with it.
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