Ciara's Reviews > Mean Little Deaf Queer

Mean Little Deaf Queer by Terry Galloway
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's review
Dec 13, 09

bookshelves: autobio-memoir, feminist-y-books, radical-non-fiction, read-in-2009
Read in November, 2009

i don't know what to say about this book. i saw it on the new shelf at the library & was intrigued, but passed it over the first time. i went back to the library again a few days later & picked it up. & then i let it sit on my shelf for a couple of weeks before i finally read it. it is described as a memoir of a woman growing up queer in texas in the 60s, who slowly loses her hearing throughout childhood due to neurological damage caused by a drug her mother was given during her pregnancy, in west germany (where galloway's family lived while her father was employed as a spy in east germany). she writes about growing up during the cold war, childhood out of body experiences, the alienation she felt while she was losing her hearing & not understanding what was happening, grappling with being queer, wanting to work in theatre & being shunted out because of her disabilities. i guess i felt anxious about reading another bummer memoir from someone who has had a rough life. at a certain point, i start to feel emotionally tapped out, you know? but i finally picked it up & it was a really quick read & not as much of a bummer as i'd expected.

the book is described by some reviewers as funny. some people have compared it to writers like david sedaris. i'm not really sure what those people were smoking. i guess there were parts that were somewhat amusing, & there were parts that were obviously supposed to be funny, but i wasn't really bowled over. i think it was the writing. something about it just didn't grab me. it's a memoir in that kind of old-school style, where it feels like this is the one memoir galloway is going to write--she's not necessarily going to try to spin an entire authorial career out of writing about her own life. & so she has to cover a lot of ground in only about 200 pages. so the book never really gets that deep, & she seems to spend a lot of time on certain small incidents, obviously trying to present them as a larger allegory for something (like the hide & seek game she & her sisters used to play with her father, & its connection to growing up during the cold war), & fell a little flat.

it was a perfectly fine book, with insight to share about growing up queer forty years ago in a small town, struggling with disability in an age before technological advancements made life considerably easier for people, etc, but...the writing just didn't grab me. not a bad book, not a great book.
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