on May 7, 2009
I loved this book, because it made me laugh and made me cry. It caught me in the throat more than once, as it fully and articulately revealed the challenges of disability and of becoming oneself. Galloway writes with such wit and intelligence and honesty. The prose carries you along and then surprises again and again. It is wonderful. Galloway says stories were the currency of her family. The richness of her own storytelling is evidence that she has indeed prospered from that legacy. Although many chapters stand out in my mind, the final one has lodged itself inside my heart.
on May 16, 2009
Mean Little deaf Queer is remarkable -- this memoir transmutes Terry Galloway's unique, quirky, anguished, sometimes goofy but nevertheless powerful individual narrative into a larger exploration of the way we tell stories to ourselves and to others in order to construct our places in the world.
Terry as a child experienced moments when she was transported out of her body -- later, she engaged in an elaborate exploration of how to transport herself back into her body, to live in the world as the person she was. At the same time, in theater, she was transported again by the powers of drama and comedy. (There is a passage about performance of Shakespeare in a barn in Texas that magnificently captures such a moment.) The reader will be transported as well.
A word about the prose: Many people who are familiar with Galloway's work in theater, even work that she herself has authored or co-authored, think of her primarily as a performer. Here you get to experience her as a pure writer, finding another channel through which to link her life and wisdom to ours. Her writing is itself a performance -- a high-wire act in which the challenge is not to fall into self-absorbed sentiment on the one side or the glib, easy laugh on the other. Galloway meets that challenge and exceeds it in a way that, again and again, will take your breath away. Her writing is lyrical, precise, and relentlessly expressive.
I've known Terry for about 30 years, so this isn't an objective review. But it is a fair one, because I wouldn't praise a book -- even a friend's book -- unless I thought it deserved praise. Mean Little deaf Queer deserves very high praise indeed.
I really liked the first half of Terry Galloway's Mean Little deaf Queer, but I found the 2nd half of the book fairly rambling and tedious to get through. I think Ms. Galloway has a ton of great stories to tell, and those that she does tell in full description are funny (not so much laugh out loud funny, perhaps more bemusing) and interesting and really catch the reader's attention. When she goes on her tangents after starting a story and bounces around, it can be somewhat hard to figure out if she's remembering the past or switching her main story or what the heck is going on. I almost felt like the bulk of this memoir was an outline for her to go back and expand upon. I would love to read more stories about her youth and her family as well as her theatre days and all her relationships (tortured and not).
I never felt this was a "pity me" memoir but more, this is how it was, this is my life, this happened, so deal with it. Her honesty with the lowest points in her life and very refreshing insomuch that she didn't wallow in the low points as much as state that they happened.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about someone's life that is definitely "alternative" (a term she uses a lot). It's not for the faint of heart or the prissy, so if those who get their sensibilities all bent out sort because of the smallest thing probably should pass this book by.
I hope Ms. Galloway writes more and centers her writing on specifics of her life instead of trying to encompass so much in so little space.
on September 25, 2009
I've never written a review before but I enjoyed this book so much I had to tell everyone about it. It was laugh out loud funny, terribly sad and poignant all at the same time. I even found myself reading passages out loud to friends and family because they were so beautifully crafted. Here a few of my favorite moments:
*As a young child in Germany, the author's vocabulary was so advanced that a neighbor thought she was a dwarf. I almost peed my pants on that one!
*In the story of the author's sister and her fabulous husband encouraging her to accept a theater scholarship, my favorite line: "It was as if Zeus had seconded Hera." What a fantastic thing to say.
*In the chapter titled "Drag Acts," the description of what actually happens to artists and audiences when the stars align was one of the best illustrations of that moment I've ever read. It made me think that someone who has no knowledge or understanding of the transformative power of art would be able to get what it's all about after reading that passage. It made me cry then and it makes me cry now as I'm remembering it.
*When re-telling anecdotes of the author's brief stint as a hostess, her solution to the resulting mayhem was to "operate on the honor system." She's a girl after my own heart and I found myself repeat that punch line over and over again, giggling to myself all the while.
*I loved the "miracle of the ponds" story and I cried for the author and her family while reading the description of her father's last days. I'm sure he is terribly missed! He seems like a wonderful man.
*I found personal meaning in chapter titled "The Shallow End" and the author's rant on the "them" who canonize both people with disabilities and those who offer their support. My husband is a middle school ESE teacher and one of the things he hates more than anything is the way people lay prostrate at his feet when they find out he works with students who have special needs. Conversely, we have seen the same phenomenon happen when strangers react to his students in public. "Their eyes well up with tears when they watch us go about our day-to-day lives. Look at how bravely she brushes her teeth." A line which, again, tested the limits of my bladder!
I'm so glad Galloway wrote this book; I'm even more glad I read it and I thank her for giving this gift to the world!
on June 8, 2009
As more and more memoirs are published, it becomes harder to find a unique 'hook.' Terry Galloway is both deaf and a lesbian, so it was intriguing to pick up this memoir if just to find out how those two characteristics influenced her life. It seems that being deaf was the more salient point of the memoir and her queerness was more of a secondary tale, but that doesn't take away from the narrative at all.
The book is very loosely chronological; in fact, most of the chapters are more like essays on a theme, skipping forward and back to tell a whole story. I enjoyed reading about Galloway's experiences in the theater and with other people who are disabled the most. An intriguing second project for Galloway might be to collect and publish the stories she alludes to in her final chapter about her Actual Lives cohorts, a performance group for those with disabilities.
I find her family and friends almost unbelievably liberal and accepting, more okay with her sexual identity than with her disability, and this strikes me as odd, but sort of refreshing; especially considering she spent almost all her life in the Conservative American South. However, I get the feeling that there was more discrimination she had to deal with than she relates; almost all the derogatory comments in the book are made about her deafness.
One thing I was disappointed by was that most of the cover blurbs and other advertising about this book portray it as 'hilarious.' I found very little of it funny and only laughed out loud once. It was still a great book, but I expected something slightly different from reading the promotional material. That is more a failing of the publisher than the author, of course, and others with a different sense of humor might actually find it funnier than I did.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who likes memoirs, especially people who, like me, are becoming increasingly bored with the genre.
Over the past decade I've read numerous memoirs by writers from the LGBT community, most notably by Dan Savage, Alison Bechdel and Augusten Burroughs. Obviously, some are more successful then others communicating their life's trials and tribulations. Terry Galloway's Mean Little Deaf Queer is successful for a myriad of reasons, the most pronounced being her ferocious wit and an ability to write well, as well as engagingly. As a founder (and most visible cast member) of Mickee Faust Club, a local theatrical troupe, she has become a bona fide Tallahassee celebrity [a claim she humbly denies].
Galloway is, for all intents and purposes, deaf. This has left her handicapped, but my no means disabled. Yes, she tells some horror stories. However, it is her triumphs over her adversities that resound throughout this inspiring volume. She is, as we all are, a truly unique individual. Her stories of gradually losing her hearing at age 9, coming to terms with her burgeoning sexuality, dealing with bigotry and humiliations both oblivious and intentional are told in language which allows her readers to recognize, appreciate and empathize; some may even see their complicity in society's crime of marginalizing minorities.
The chapters in this book which affected me most profoundly were those dealing with her family. There is a scene of her mother singing while ironing her husband's clothes, a private moment of reverie and connubial affirmation the author captures with exquisite sensitivity. Her father's deathbed scene, the miracle of the ponds, and outpouring of love by his wife and daughters had me reading through tears. There are many stories depicted in these pages; some hard to take, others dark and humorous. The lady tells a story of being locked up in a NYC mental ward that is wickedly funny; an inspired scene of comic hijinks and merriment worthy of "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest," complete with an evil (Ronald Reagan loving) head nurse.
With "Mean Little deaf Queer" Galloway proves adept at releasing her life's stories with clarity and humor; she is a literary Whirling Dervish, spinning her yarns without distraction, leaving her readers conquered but not at all dizzy.
on February 15, 2016
As a friend of Terry's for several decades now, I was surprised about the new things I learned about her when I read her memoir. But more than that I was pleased with the real insight it gave me into another human being, and a disabled one at that.
Terry bares her soul, and it's one worth gazing at.
on May 22, 2009
I've known Terry for a long time and consider her a close friend. So, when I began to read this book, I was sure to like it. However, I had no idea it would affect me the way that it has. I laughed out loud at her depictions, characterizations, and descriptions of her acquaintances, friends, lovers, colleagues, family..... The book invited me right in, took ahold, and completely entertained and made me think for a couple of days. This is a book about all our lives, insecurities, triumphs, failures, questions, and wonderings. This is a life-affirming, shattering, tour de force of a memoir. I recommend it to anyone who likes to read and has any interest in our shared humanity.
on February 18, 2016
Great book. Wonderful author. Terry Galloway sheds light on a subject that is not oft discussed with humor, tenderness, and tenacity. Galloway's "ethic if inclusion and adaptation" is a clarion call for those of who work with the public and often make assumptions about what people with different disabilities can -- and cannot -- do.
on June 9, 2009
I have been on a memoir kick for a while now and have read as many as I can find the time to read. Among all those I have read, Mean Little deaf Queer easily ranks as one of the best.
Galloway's account of her childhood is occasionally painful, often sharply humorous, and always compelling and genuinely endearing without being overly sentimental--a combination that, in my reading experience, only the most talented memoirists are capable of.
Galloway clearly has "it" as a writer, and we are lucky that she has chosen to share that with the rest of us. Kudos for such a terrific first book--I hope there are more to come!