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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir » User review

'deaf' being the operative word here...

  • Jun 9, 2009
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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 <i>very</i> 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.

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About the reviewer
Emily Charpentier ()
Ranked #695
Member Since: Apr 19, 2009
Last Login: Jun 9, 2009 04:11 AM UTC
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About this book


When Terry Galloway was born on Halloween, no one knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system. After her family moved from Berlin, Germany, to Austin, Texas, hers became a deafening, hallucinatory childhood where everything, including her own body, changed for the worse. But those unwelcome changes awoke in this particular child a dark, defiant humor that fueled her lifelong obsessions with language, duplicity, and performance.

As a ten-year-old self-proclaimed "child freak," she acted out her fury at her boxy hearing aids and Coke-bottle glasses by faking her own drowning at a camp for crippled children. Ever since that first real-life performance, Galloway has used theater and performance—onstage and off—to defy and transcend her reality. With disarming candor, Terry writes about her mental breakdowns, her queer identity, and her life in a silent, quirky world populated by unforgettable characters. What could have been a bitter litany of complaint is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life.
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Books, Drama, Biographies, Texas, Memoir, Lesbian, Queer, Deaf, Esthers Follies


ISBN-10: 0807072907 (hbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780807072905 (hbk.)
Author: Terry Galloway
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Beacon Press
Date Published: June 2009
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