A Professor’s Memoir of Life Inside a Ravaged Body – The New Yorker

Crosby, who is a professor of English and Gender, Feminist, and Sexuality studies, and a scholar of the Victorian novel, describes how most accounts of trauma and recovery “answer to the dictates of the realist consensus”: once the writer’s life has been split wide open, the task of such memoirs is to stitch it back together in ways that make it seem deep, complex, self-contained, and goal-oriented. Such books tend to convey uplifting messages, turning the disabled body into an illustration of why readers should make the most of every day or overcome adversities in their own lives; through tales of hope or inspiration, they aim to give value to lives that might otherwise seem damaged beyond repair. (The titles of Christopher Reeve’s memoirs, “Still Me,” and “Nothing is Impossible,” reflect the genre’s prevailing tone.) Crosby, by contrast, resists any impulse to impart lessons, shrugging off the narrative arc that “carries the troubled subject through painful trials to livable accommodations … and all too often sounds the note triumphant.”

Source: A Professor’s Memoir of Life Inside a Ravaged Body – The New Yorker

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