Reading (and Writing) about Disability

Experts in disability, precarity, vulnerability — who better to imagine and reflect on the end of the world?

Over at Electric Literature, Robert Kingett recently reviewed a bunch of literary anthologies written by, for, and about people with disabilities. These are essays and fictional works from the young adult genre to dystopian science fiction.

Kingett describes the latter collection, Defying Doomsday as:

an anthology of apocalypse fiction featuring disabled and chronically ill protagonists, proving it’s not always the ‘fittest’ who survive—it’s the most tenacious, stubborn, enduring and innovative characters who have the best chance of adapting when everything is lost.

This reminded me of the anthology Watch Your Head is putting together. Based in Toronto and coming out of an Extinction Rebellionsponsored event last year, they’re focused on the heat death of our biosphere. I have some things I mean to send them too.

The “end of the world” looks a bit different from the standpoint of people who have only ever known vulnerability, precarity, and — for some — a strong sense of a foreshortened future. Most people with CMT are supposed to live out a normal life expectancy, but that’s hardly a guarantee for anyone — it’s been going down in the US, for one thing. There is also something about knowing you’ve lost and are losing mobility and picking up pain to make you more appreciative of time and life as it passes.

What’s the best disability writing you’ve read?

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