Discrimination against shorter people, as reported by Andrew Solomon

One recent study observed that adults with achondroplasia have “lower self-esteem, less education, lower annual incomes, and are less likely to have a spouse.”  The income statistic bears witness to institutional discrimination against LPs; the study found that while three-quarters of the dwarfs’ family members, presumably demographically similar to them in most regards, made more than $50,000 per year, less than a third of the dwarfs made that amount.

That is from Andrew Solomon’s new book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.

I pre-ordered this book eagerly, but overall I am having difficulty with it.  Too many sections throw too much at the proverbial wall and fail to sort out truth from fallacy.  I am not sure what is supposed to be insight and what is supposed to be a recording of different views.  I would have liked a more direct confrontation with the issue of parental narcissism.  This is still a good review of the book.  I longed for a page of Ross Douthat or Michael Bérubé.

The book, however, supplies excellent data for anyone wishing to study the utter hypocrisy of current understandings of diversity.

One Amazon reviewer raised a good question:

As a special ed teacher, my question is, does it make sense to include murderers in the same category with deaf people, dwarves, and people with physical disabilities? Perhaps he has a justification for it, in that parents might be disappointed and heartbroken in all these cases. But right off the bat that seems wrong to me, categorically different, moral deviance v. physical or intellectual.

Solomon is a very smart guy.  But overall this book leaves one with a sense of being tired of the value of the individual, written by an author overwhelmed by what comes across as, despite Solomon’s quest for nobility, a rogue’s gallery of misfits, baroque style, and without the writing itself coming to terms with the book’s own underlying emotional tenor.  Is it unfair to read this as still being, ultimately, a book about depression?

This book may interest many of you, and its publication can be seen as an event of sorts, but I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it.


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