Planet of the Blind
Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto is the record of a life of constant frustration, springing from Kuusisto’s near-blindness, but it is also an extraordinary literary achievement.
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A haunting, brilliantly imagined memoir about coming to terms with near-blindness, this is the story of a ‘lost man with a speck of something like seeing.’ Born prematurely, Stephen Kuusisto has been fractionally sighted since a post-natal operation severely damaged his retinas. Yet he grew up pretending he could see. Planet of the Blind tells his story – the years of a lonely childhood spent behind bottle-lens glasses, the consuming fear of ridicule and derision, the struggle through college that brings him from obesity to anorexia. With his nose pressed into the spine of a book in furious attempts to read, riding a bicycle at insane speeds, never truly knowing the face of his first lover, he stumbles through half a lifetime enraged and mortified.
This is the record of a handicapped life; but it is also an extraordinary literary achievement. Kuusisto has managed to translate his opaque, kaleidoscopic world of shape and colour into poetic and luminous prose. Planet of the Blind conveys life as it is lived by one whose visual impressions are ‘at once beautiful and largely useless’, and for whom normality is continuously transformed by his blindness into an intense aesthetic experience.
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