Brave writing, Charlotte Simmonds

The Walking Stick Tree
Trish Harris
Escalator Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994118646

A Small Blue Thing
Julie Hanify
Submarine, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994123770

The Case of the Missing Body
Jenny Powell
Otago University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781877578311

What Does the Sea Sound Like?
Evie Mahoney
Mary Egan Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473367718

My friend Uther once called a play A Show About Superheroes, partly as a ploy to get non-theatre people into theatres, under the logic that there are people who will go to anything if it is about superheroes. Similarly, there are people who will read any book on certain topics. This is how disability memoirs do so well and how companies like Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP), publishing solely on Autism Spectrum Disorders, can churn out so many books and end up making far more money than publishers with a wider subject range. They are selling to niche audiences, but audiences which aren’t necessarily avid readers or literature lovers. And, just as the readers of disability memoirs may read a book solely because it describes an experience that affects them or a loved one, the authors of disability memoirs often have no other qualification for becoming an author than their experience of disability. The majority of disability books are bad. But, being one of these people who will read any book on a certain topic myself, I understand when reading such books that I am not reading for the aesthetic enjoyment obtained from poetry. I am reading purely for the content, no matter how poorly presented.


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