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Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled Paperback – December 22, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nancy Mairs, a gifted essayist who is fierce and funny by turns, landed in a wheelchair years ago due to degenerative multiple sclerosis that has sapped much of her strength. She bends an agile mind and sharp tongue around the daily tasks of seeing eye-to-navel with a world that clearly prefers nondisabled "normals." One candid, pained essay tells of longing to give care, not just accept it. Others describe the shifting line in the sands marking limits she could live with; teeth-grinding frustration at foolish building practices that keep even public bathrooms out of her reach; and a discomforting adventure as an undercover agent exposing a drug fraud aimed at people with diseases like MS. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Mairs (Ordinary Time) is a writer of heightened sensibility not entirely attributable to the years she has spent wheelchair-bound because of advancing multiple sclerosis. From her viewpoint, approximately at the level of other people's navels, she constructs here "a Baedeker for a country to which no one travels willingly," the story of a life shaped by severe physical disability. In this collection of ruminative, exploratory essays, there is also earthy humor as Mairs addresses issues that range from physical intimacy and a spouse's health problems to concerns with public facilities and her advocacy achievements. The author, a vibrant, well-traveled poet, teacher and mother, takes readers inside a world that at times seem not to want her. Although Mairs disavows the inspirational thrust of her essays, they are perforce filled with insights that will be helpful to a large population, especially women. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; New edition edition (December 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807070874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807070871
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Reviewer: robert dorroh from Sonora, CA United States Nancy Mairs, with devastating honesty, chronicles life as a cripple (her choice of word) in poignant essays in "Waist High in the World."
Beset with multiple sclerosis and bouts with clinical and situational depression, she offsets these stumbling blocks with joy, candor, eloquence, and cultural and political insights. It is a book for everybody, not just the disabled, for it challenges our fears, cultural hangups and citizenship: "The more perspectives that can be brought to bear on human experience, even from the slant of a wheelchair or a hospital bed, or through the ears of a blind person or the fingers of someone who is deaf, the richer that experience becomes." She attacks the stereotype that cripples must be passive and unfailingly polite in a culture that doesn't want to deal with them: "Beyond cheerfulness and patience, people don't expect much of a cripple's character."
Pondering her husband and caretaker George's battle with cancer, she offers a balanced look at suicide in the face of his death. Though she has attempted suicide "more than once," she questions the right-to-die movement, which extolls "rational" suicide: "Since hopelessness is a distinctive symptom of depression, which is an emotional disorder, actions carried out in a despairing state seem to me intrinsically irrational. This last time I clung to shreds of reason, which saved me." Still, she sees suicide as a possibility: "I want to be the one in charge of my life, including its end."
Why should society pay for the misfortunes of others? people ask.
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Format: Paperback
Nancy Mairs writes about the human condition with humor, compassion, and ruthless honesty. This is a book of personal reflections about disability, embodiment, marriage, religion, and lots of other things, but fundamentally about the possibility of honestly acknowledging all the pain and confusion in our lives and at the same time--within that pain and confusion--living fully, gratefully, joyously.

Wow. What a gift. Thank you, Nancy Mairs.

This book and "Ordinary Time" are my favorites by Mairs.
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Format: Paperback
Facing chronic disease myself, I've turned to books like this for information, comfort, challenge and ideas. Nancy Mairs is the best I've found for writing honestly about what it means for people (women in particular) to face chronic, degenerative illness. She writes from her personal experience, but I see myself in her struggles. A book to read and re-read.
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Format: Hardcover
Nancy Mairs writes that there is a "tangle of reasons" why readers might want to read this book. She writes for readers who crave to know more about life with multiple sclerosis and depression (her own diseases) or life with disability in general -- although she says she can't offer generalizations. I found the essays the most compelling when they were the most personal and unflinching. Mairs also does a good job of teasing out the issues in "right to die" and quality of life controversies. Altogether, a satisfying and thought-provoking read for anyone who would like to encounter a fiercely independent and often joyous woman who declares herself a "cripple."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nancy Mairs has given me a whole new perspective on living. My partner is disabled, though her limitation do not approach Nancy's in severity. But her perspective, living, loving, thriving in a world that is alternately indifferent and hostile to your plight is eye opening and refreshing. Thank you Nancy.
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Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for one of my women's study's classes nearly 7 years ago. It has been too long to remember much of the detail but what I do remember is the depth of the impression that was left upon me. It is a very difficult task to look at someone's life, through their eyes, and experience their total destruction of being...slow....poignant...and startlingly real.

As we discussed this book in class, one of the girls ran out in tears, later coming back and disclosing that she, too, suffered from MS, making the book that much real and impressionable for me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fine read – of all the books I've read since being disabled, Nancy Mairs is by far the most intelligent and well spoken. Perhaps that's not fair to put authors in competition with each other, but she is now my favorite. A must read… I have ordered one of her other books already. Thank you for your service this Mairs, and keep on writing!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book makes you think. Challenges you to meet your thoughts on disabled persons. The author is a college professor who is confined to a wheel chair as a result of a chronic progressive neurologic illness. Makes you think.
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