Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution by Christopher Jon Heuer


I read this book for a class about Deaf Culture, so I read it in chunks rather than all at once. I think this might be the best way to read it, since the longer the chunks assigned, the less I enjoyed the reading. This partly had to do with the fact that the book is a collection of poems and essays. The average length of the writings is about 2 pages, and having so many chunks definitely breaks up the reading.

As for the writing itself: eh. Some of the essays were incredible, but for every really fantastic, impactful, beautiful line there seemed to be two or three that were either boring or cliché. As a collection, certainly, it was not well curated; two or three pieces might play on a similar theme, only for that theme come back again 30 pages later, where it’s no longer relevant. Then there was the poetry. Poetry, in my opinion, is like swimming. Most people can swim, but there are very few people who do it really, really well. Although I don’t know that much about Heuer’s swimming capabilities, I can say that his poetry isn’t great. There is a lyricism to his prose that doesn’t come across in the poetic pieces, and the sarcasm that brightens so many of his essays drags the poetry into a trivial or dismissive place.

The saving grace is Heuer’s singular perspective on the world. This isn’t even in reference to his deafness; there are many talented deaf authors out there (hit me up in the comments if you want some recommendations, but I digress). Not only is Heuer unique in his deafness, but he is able to comment on so many things outside of deaf culture in an interesting and sometimes unheard of way.

TL;DR: If you read only a few pages a day, or even read just one of his better essays on its own, the work if good. But all together, even spaced over a period of several weeks, the work felt a bit forced.


(Credit to Lifeprint’s ASL University for the gif!)

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