Synopses & Reviews
It wasn't until he was in his early twenties that doctors discovered that Jim Knipfel's nearsightedness was the result of an untreatable rare genetic eye disease known as retinitis pigmentosa, which, they said, would leave him blind within a few short years. Furthermore, he was informed, it was an inoperable brain lesion that was causing the suicidal depression and emotional free-for-all he was experiencing. Add to that a drinking problem, a marriage on the rocks, and a lack of any obvious job skills, and you have a young man on the fast track toward oblivion. In an unpredictable, swift-paced, and stirring memoir, Knipfel maintains his absurdist perspective in recalling a life overrun with troubles of every variety. Along the way he introduces us to neurologists, newspaper editors, murderous punk rockers, optometrists, bartenders, petty thieves, genies, social workers, and friends and family who look on as an innocent young man from the Midwest is driven helplessly mad and becomes incurably blind. It is an enthralling confessional about enduring, even laughing, in a world where seemingly nothing goes right, for anyone.
"[Knipfel] describes himself as simply having been born with an intractable belligerence that caused him to take pleasure in doing anything but what was expected of him." Paula Friedman, The New York Times Book Review
"Jim Knipfel's life...sounds like a bad dream....Mr. Knipfel's sardonic sense of humor and his keen sense of the absurd...enliven this memoir,making his account of his travails les depressing than funny, heroic and, yes, entertaining....[The book] displays remarkable elan and some wicked black humor..." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"[T]he story of Knipfel's ashy life...and it's not like any of the other memoirs you're reading....his artistic vision is as stunning as a sunset over the Brooklyn Bridge." Entertainment Weekly
"Readers...who are familiar with Knipfel's irreverent 'Slackjaw' column won't be surprised to read that this memoir of his grudging capitulation to a degenerative eye disease is the antithesis of the therapeutic memoir. Knipfel is honest, but not earnest....a moving reflection on what it is to face blindness and not, under any circumstance, to feel sorry for himself." Publisher's Weekly
"Illuminating...Knipfel's memoirs focus on a time when his marriage was failing, his visual field was shrinking, and an inoperable tumor in his brain was giving him seizures and suicidal depression. While this may sound like the makings of a dreary and pitiful tale of woe, it is anything but. Knipfel's bizarre antics...provoke laughter, not tears...sharp and wickedly funny." Kirkus Reviews
In this surprisingly comic memoir, a columnist for the "New York Press" relates his story as a young writer surviving the onslaught of retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease which makes him go blind.