Henry Kisor lost his hearing at age three to meningitis and encephalitis but went on to excel in the most verbal of professions as a literary journalist. This new and expanded edition of Kisor's engrossing memoir recounts his life as a deaf person in a hearing world and addresses heartening changes over the last two decades due to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and advancements in cochlear implants and modes of communication.
Kisor tells of his parents' drive to raise him as a member of the hearing and speaking world by teaching him effective lip-reading skills at a young age and encouraging him to communicate with his hearing peers. With humor and much candor, he narrates his time as the only deaf student at Trinity College in Connecticut and then as a graduate student at Northwestern University, as well as his successful career as the book review editor at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News. Life without hearing, Kisor says, has been fine and fulfilling.
Widely praised in popular media and academic journals when it was first published in 1990, What's That Pig Outdoors? opened new conversations about the deaf. Bringing those conversations into the twenty-first century, Kisor updates the continuing disagreements between those who advocate sign language and those who practice speech and lip-reading, discusses the increased acceptance of deaf people's abilities and idiosyncrasies, and considers technological advancements such as blogging, instant messaging, and hand-held mobile devices that have enabled deaf people to communicate with the hearing world on its own terms.
Genial and moving, sharp and witty, Kisor's memoir defies pigeonholing of the deaf by hearing and deaf persons alike. The book editor of the Chicago Sun-Times , who lost all aural ability at the age of three after suffering meningitis, Kisor characterizes himself as ``a minority within a minority,'' an oralist without knowledge of sign language who relies on spoken language and lip-reading to live and work amid the hearing. Trained by his mother in the then-maverick reading-based Mirrielees system and educated in hearing classrooms, he indicts the paternalistic deaf educators of his youth who fostered an ``oral-or-nothing'' means of communication for the deaf, although he also finds alarming the ``new orthodoxy'' of today's separatist signing deaf culture. With unflinching candor and telling details, Kisor cites the ways in which being deaf among the hearing shaped his personal and professional experiences: his humiliating impotence when his wife, undergoing an induced delivery of a stillborn baby, confronts insensitive medical personnel; a bout with alcoholism; his flexible interviewing skills, which are tested, for example, when he must negotiate a dialogue with writer Edward Hoagland, a chronic stutterer. (May)