Easily the best book I've read this year. I don't even remember why I picked this one up--I had no idea who Hockenberry was, being maybe a little young to have caught his NPR heydey--but whoever recommended it in passing or left it sitting out on display where I could see it, thank you.
There's a lot going on here that I could talk about, whether it's the blunt description of how America treats its disabled citizens (often poorly; this should come as no surprise) or the rueful ruminations on war journalists' obsessive pursuit of the "center" of a war. There were chapters that had me cackling hysterically and passages that had me furtively wiping tears away so no one else on the bus would see. There were also a lot of anecdotes and asides that left me deeply, deeply angry.
It's an anger the author clearly shares. And I think what I appreciate most about this book is the way he portrays that anger, how he reveals that it's often justified and sometimes not, sometimes useful and sometimes a hindrance to his own efforts, and how all those categories mix and overlap. I've been trained to think of anger as a bad thing, a destructive force that should be fought against, except, perhaps, occasionally, when it's justified and can be harnessed on behalf of others. But Hockenberry shows clearly that even justified anger can be harmful and even senseless anger can be a useful goad, and sometimes (often) it can be both or all of the above at the same time.
And no matter what its cause or ultimate effect, it's a feeling, and a powerful one, that can't be just locked away and denied.
But if that's too heavy for you, I leave you with this thought. Say you had let yourself in to your ex's apartment under the mistaken belief that she might be interested in getting back together. Say you had fallen asleep on her bed. Say you were woken by the sound of her--and her beau of the moment--entering the apartment, unaware of your presence and clearly intending to make extensive, energetic use of the bed. You're mere minutes from discovery. What do you do?
I guarantee it's not what Hockenberry did. Oh, my god. I thought I was going to fall off the bench from laughing.
So read this book because it says important things, things about war and disability and human nature at large. But also read it because it's funny as hell.