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Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot Paperback – April 14, 1990

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"When people laugh like hell and then say, 'That's not funny', you can be pretty sure they're talking about John Callahan."

-- 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."

From the Inside Flap

Is it possible to find humor -- corrosive, taboo-shattering, laugh-till-you-cry humor -- in the story of a 38-year-old- cartoonist who's both a quadriplegic and a recovering alcoholic? The answer is yes, if the cartoonist is John Callahan -- whose infamous work has graced the pages of Omni, Penthouse, and The New Yorker -- and if he's telling it in his own words and pictures. But Callahan's uncensored account of his troubled -- and sometimes impossible -- life is also genuinely inspiring. Without self-pity or self-righteousness, this liberating book tells us how a quadriplegic with a healthy libido has sex, what it's like to live in the exitless maze of the welfare system, where a cartoonist finds his comedy, and how a man with no reason to believe in anything discovers his own brand of faith.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728245
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Callahan has written a fabulous book for almost any audience, mature mid-teens and older. One could call it irreverent and funny, morbidly funny in places. But it's much more than that.
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 ›
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Format: Paperback
I didn't pick this up strictly to read the autobiography of a quadriplegic, or to read a journal of a man's struggle with alcoholism. Rather, I was interested in the the life story of a man who has produced some of the most raw, funny, and disturbing cartoons I've ever seen. I ended up with all three.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
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..
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Format: Paperback
Whether you are an alcoholic yourself or only know of one, this is the best book you can get your hands on to help you understand the life of anyone with a drinking problem.

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.
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