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In the Little World: A True Story of Dwarfs, Love, and Trouble Hardcover – December 18, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

What began as a feature article for Esquire in February 1998, in which contributing editor Richardson introduces several people, tall and small, looking for love and miracles at the annual Little People of America convention, has culminated in this full-blown narrative. Here Richardson explores the intimate stories and relationships he cultivated with the individuals initially profiled. He deftly alternates between multiple characters and story lines the meeting and courtship of Michael and Meredith, the contentious Andrea, and the heartbreaking and truly remarkable odyssey of Jocelyn and her mother, Evelyn. Throughout, Richardson expounds upon the genetic, cultural, and literary facets of dwarfism and along the way introduces us to some fascinating people, like the brilliant surgeon Dr. Carson and the preeminent medical authority on dwarfism, the Mother Teresa-like Dr. Kopits. Richardson is both entertaining and brutally honest in these relationships, which become significant in his life an interesting twist on the detached journalistic approach. This is a work whose significance will increase. An important purchase for most libraries. Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Richardson's introduction to the Little World begins at the Little People of America convention in Atlanta. On assignment to write a story of the convention for Esquire magazine, Richardson conducts interviews with several dwarfs. He meets Michael, looking for love and hoping to hit it off with Meredith. He also meets Jocelyn and her mother, Evelyn, who have come all the way from Australia to consult with Dr. Kopits, a doctor famous for his dedication to treating dwarfs. And then there is Andrea--defensive and easily enraged, she seems to be as fascinated with Richardson as he is with her. Even after the convention is long over, Richardson keeps in touch with the dwarfs he became closest to, following Michael and Meredith's romance, Jocelyn's multiple surgeries and their effect on her family, and Andrea's grappling with her father's illness. Richardson's writing has both immediacy and candor, but perhaps what is most special about the book is how closely he is involved in the lives of the people whose stories he is relating here. Richardson struggles with his own perceptions of beauty and physicality, challenged by Andrea's confrontational nature and Jocelyn's stoic bravery. Richardson's introspection might cause him to lose his impersonal distance, but it is only to his, and the book's, benefit. Because of its naked honesty, In the Little World is both phenomenal and unique. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (December 18, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060193166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060193164
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,456,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Journalist John H. Richardson attended a Little People of America convention looking for a story he could turn into a book. But the perfect story did not emerge immediately and so Richardson, cynical journalist that he seems to be, apparently decided to force a story. What emerges is more a voyeuristic look into the methods and musings of a journalist than the intimate look at "dwarfs" that Richardson may have intended.
Early in the book, the author muses over how he should approach his story. He is critical of those who write "little people with big hearts" stories and sets out to do something different. He succeeds. This book comes off as little people through the eyes of a little heart.
Richardson chronicles his involvement with a brassy female dwarf ; the blossoming love of a dwarf couple ; and a crippled teen female dwarf who suffers through multiple surgeries with her maladjusted mother. The author takes the subjects on his own terms, works his way into their lives, and gains their trust so that he can expose their worst personality traits with diminished attention to any warmth that they might possess.
The author writes very well as may be expected from one who writes for a living. His coverage of the world of little people is fairly complete with significant discussions on the medical treatment of dwarfism through surgery and therapy. He delves too deeply into the philosophical view of dwarfism through the ages. And he delves deeply into the relationships between little people, their families, friends and others who surround them.
He graphically chronicles the stress that dwarfism can place on a family and even more graphically portrays the havoc that can occur when one turns outside one's family for moral support.
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Format: Paperback
John Richardson allegedly went to Atlanta to write about the yearly national conference for Little People of America. What he actually ended up doing was putting himself into the story very much like Charlie Kaufman did in the film "Adaptation." It didn't work for that film and it certainly doesn't work for this book.

So many reviews praise Richardson for sharing this hidden world with the general public. Richardson does not shed light on an unknown world. He reports on a world full of people that he, like many others, fail to see as human beings. He exposes his prejudice towards people with dwarfism throughout, but the most glaring example is at the end. After following Jocelyn and her family for over 2 years he says good-bye and writes that he "bends down to kiss her bulging forehead." Two years and the only thing he still sees are the differences? With reporting such as this he never is able to convey anything to his readers besides his constant "look at the freaks" mentality that the book opens with. Richardson's glee at his entry into dwarf-world simply reads as the kid who finally finds someone the bullies dislike even more than they dislike him and uses his new found knowledge to keep it that way.

Perhaps it's more important for Richardson to blow away the stereotype of "little bodies/big hearts" and let the world know he's the Goliath that slew David. Perhaps his "us vs them" mentality makes him feel superior. Perhaps he has never come to grips that the beauty that he is so obsessed with has eluded him. Whatever his reasons for writing this book, gaining insight on a community he is not a member of is not one of them. There are better fiction books on dwarfism than this supposedly true story.
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Format: Hardcover
What could have been simply a voyeuristic look into an underreported world becomes something much greater in the hands of John Richardson. Unlike many reporters, Richardson has the philospohical chops to provide real meaning to what he witnesses, and to bring out truths that aren't obvious to the naked eye. Throughout the book, Richardson surprises by often focusing his energy on the fears and hidden motivations of "normal" people -- the parents, the siblings, the doctors, the gawkers.
If anyone should feel discomfited by the book, it's not the dwarves, it's the tall people -- myself included -- who have so much difficulty dealing with what the "little people" represent.
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Format: Hardcover
Once on OPRAH I'd heard a guest state that if we white people say we are not prejudiced, then we ARE and we are in denial. I was worried. Did she mean me? Lately I've been reading a lot about dwarfism, fiction and nonfiction. (The LPA/Amazon booklist has been a great resource). Richardson's book was the one that forced me to rethink my feelings and opinions about the little world.
I am an average sized woman with a baby niece with achondroplasia. For years, even before she was born, I had been fascinated by dwarfism so I welcomed her with a soaring heart. I felt special, chosen, to be family to this little person. I saw IN THE LITTLE WORLD as another book that could add to my awareness and it did, but not as I'd expected. The words are sometimes brutally honest, sometimes irritating, but always moving and informative.
Just as many authors have done with fictional accounts, average sized people can use dwarfs' sometimes traumatic experiences as metaphors to their own personal anguish. John Richarson bares his soul striving to see how patronizing it is to use dwarfs' struggles in this tall world for our own benefit; "They're different, and they're brave", we say, "...just like me!" This is still stereotyping and discriminatory thinking, not to mention egoism!
Well, Richardson's reporting caught me in the act, so to speak. Dwarfs are people. Why should they be arbitrarily elevated onto a pedestal or be dropped into the depths of pity for simply living their lives? Attitude is the disability! Here is a strong voice and a new perspective from the average sized world saying: Stop the brazen condescension! Thank you to all the little people who spoke so honestly through this account and to John Richardson for taking risks telling an often difficult story.
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