Sunday, January 31, 2016

If At Birth You Don't Succeed by Zach Anner

I had never heard of Zach Anner before reading about his book If At Birth You Don't Succeed on librarything. He is an internet star, hosting several different web series, a comedian, fitness instructor...and oh, he has cerebral palsy.


What came through about Zach to me is that he is a person first; his disability is not his defining feature.

One of the many things he does in the book is that he confronts how people often see the disability before they see the person.

I know this is a long quote from the book, but really, it's worth reading...

"A pedestal of prejudice is a hard thing to explain without sounding like a dick. But in a weird way, most of the world places such low expectations on me that there's no way I can do anything but amaze. I recently went on a museum tour of famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth's home and studio. During the tour, I did little more than look at paintings and indifferently notice a slightly narrow dining-room table. Sure, there was the occasional doorway I had to roll through without running into the frame, but it certainly wasn't like docking a shuttle to a space station. This isn't to say that the art itself wasn't beautiful and emotionally compelling to me, but it was an afternoon at a museum, and largely museums only ask their patrons to look at things without touching them. That much I can do. At the end of the experience, the jolly security guard who had escorted us through the tour patted me on the shoulder and said, 'Bet you haven't had this much fun in a loooong time, huh? You did really good!' I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had, in fact, just the day before, been a guest in a house where I was also not allowed to touch anything. And the day before that, I'd kayaked for the first time...over a tree. But still, in this man's mind, my doing nothing successfully was worthy of praise. Perhaps he imagined that I spent my days looking at empty walls wishing I had a still life oil painting of two lemons and a potato, and that I was bored to tears with my normal-size dining room table."

He doesn't sound like a dick. He's intelligent and funny and clever, and he just happens to have cerebral palsy which of course, as he says, is the sexiest of all the palsies.

Zach writes about wanting to be famous, learning how to be funny, figuring out how to live with his disability, but mostly, how to be human.

Definitely worth the read.

Thanks to librarything for their Early Reviewer program! And thank you for reading the blog! You can also check out this blog's Facebook page: NOT The New York Times Book Review. Happy reading!

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