My Sense of Silence: MEMOIRS OF A CHILDHOOD WITH DEAFNESS
Lennard J Davis grew up as the hearing child of deaf parents. This memoir recalls the joys and confusions of this special world, especially his complex and sometimes difficult relationships with his working-class Jewish immigrant parents.
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He remembers lying awake at night, every muscle rigidly alert, listening for intruders. He remembers frantically hammering on the door while his mother's oblivious footsteps passed back and forth inside. He remembers acting as a go-between in the marketplace, the doctor's office, the parent-teacher conference, the synagogue, the post office: a liaison between sound and silence. Lennard J. Davis grew up as the hearing child of deaf parents. In this candid, affecting, and often funny memoir, he recalls the joys and confusions of this special world, especially his complex and sometimes difficult relationships with his working-class Jewish immigrant parents. Growing up in a crowded one-bedroom South Bronx tenement, Lennard felt himself 'a hearing outsider' caught between two worlds. Davis recounts childhood loneliness and fear, adolescent frustration compounded by embarrassment at his parents' deafness, and intellectual aspirations that ran counter to their compliant stoicism.He vividly describes his father's devotion to race walking and to televised baseball games, a trip to England with his mother on the Queen Elizabeth, and his successful efforts to relocate his family to a better apartment. He also recounts his problematic relationship with his elder brother, whom he both idolized and feared, and his college years at Columbia University, where (to his parents' chagrin) he participated in the historic campus demonstrations of May 1968. In a moving epilogue, Davis tells of his adult involvement with CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) and of coming to terms with a surprising realization. Though I was hearing, he says, deafness was in me. Gracefully slipping through memory, regret, longing, and redemption, My Sense of Silence is an eloquent remembrance of human ties and human failings.
Awards, Reviews & Star Ratings
||This is a man revealing himself, touched and startled by his act of exposure, discovering and offering the old truth: every life matters. Reminding us of this is what memoir does best... An engrossing contribution to the genre. The New York Times Book Review Davis succeeds brilliantly... An outstanding personal and cultural study of deafness as well as a savvy and moving intellectual and political autobiography. The Bloomsbury Review [Davis] infuses his writing with humor and the sense of love and respect he developed for his parents...Highly recommended. Library Journal
Lennard J. Davis is a professor of English, Disability and Human Development, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has written several books and published essays in The Nation, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications, and he has been a commentator on National Public Radio.