Mittwoch, 29. Januar 2014

[English] Book Review: Blind - A Memoir (Belo Miguel Cipriani)


In the spring of 2007, Belo Cipriani was beaten and robbed of his sight at the hands of his childhood friends. "Blind: A Memoir" chronicles the two years immediately following the assault. At the age of 26, Belo found himself learning to walk, cook, and date in the dark. Armed with visual memory and his newly developed senses, Belo shows listeners what the blind see. He narrates the recondite world of the blind, where microwaves, watches, and computers talk, and where guide dogs guard as well as lead.

This book has a funny beginning. It actually starts with a legal disclaimer, stating that the book is part fiction, and that the characters are pure invention. Okay, maybe I got the term "Memoir" wrong, but isn't this a contradiction in terms? It leaves a sour taste, even if you try to take it as a protective measure, enabling the writer to be more honest about some of the less than admirable people that occasionally seem to populate his world.

Above and beyond that, this book is dominated by two themes: becoming and being blind and being gay, both of which take up a lot of space in the book.

As for Belo's "journey into blindness", it's a tough story, exposing his world for a lot less than what he thought it to be, but also for more than he could have imagined. With a lot of energy he sets out to get past his traumatic experiences and to learn the skills needed to function as a blind person, both in his career and in his private life. There's a lot of studying, a lot of trial and error, and some trial and success, too. All the while, he keeps meeting some rather strange individuals along the way, but he doesn't seem to mind.

Sean Crisden's reading of the audio book is, shall we say, at best by and large adequate. He seems to lack any emotional connection to the book, reading the story of Belo's assault like he was reading the real estate ads. Unfortunately, his rather poor attempts of voice acting make especially some of the female characters sound more like goblins than people. And some of his vocal impersonations seem to show a disturbing level of cliché, if not prejudice (do I need to say Valentina?)

All in all, the book is not the best book on the subject, but it's still a rather interesting read.

Blind - A Memoir at Audible

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