In 1998 I published a memoir entitled “Planet of the Blind” and much to my delight some good reviewers praised the book. The memoir received strong reviews in The New York Times and USA Today and suddenly I was invited to be a guest on National Public Radio’s superb program “Talk of the Nation”.
This was heady stuff for a guy who had been writing poetry for 18 years. In the poetry world you are very lucky if you have a hundred readers and let me tell you, 100 readers is pretty much beyond the wildest dreams of most of the talented and deserving poets I’ve met along the road.
Each time something good happened where the book was concerned my wife would say, jokingly, “Yeah, that’s great; just let me know when Oprah calls” We would chuckle about that.
The reason we’d laugh about Oprah is that “Planet of the Blind” is not the kind of book that haunts the bestseller lists. The book isn’t lurid; it’s not angry; it doesn’t even have much of a plot. In fact it’s such an odd book that it’s difficult to describe. It’s in part a history of blindness in America and part a “coming of age” story by a writer who largely grew up feeling ashamed of his blindness. The story isn’t particularly unusual and even worse from a sales standpoint; I have an addiction for big words.