Between Grief and Nothing

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Wade Stinson, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages

Paralysis is a haunting and terrifying tragedy that permanently changes the lives of its victims and families. And the specter of paralysis is real and threatening if Superman can become a victim. Normal life ceases to exist for a quadriplegic. Coping and surviving with an unmoving, unfeeling body is an imposing emotional and physical burden. No one looks at a paralysis victim without an impulse of pity for that person and fear that it could be he or she in that wheelchair. And everyone asks the same questions: What if that happened to me? What is that life like? How are the bodily functions I take for granted performed? Can paralysis victims have a sex life? If so, how?

The increasing number of American men who marry Eastern European women has become a unique phenomenon since the breakup of The Soviet Union and advent of the internet. These men have various motives: A young, exotic, trophy wife. A less independent and more obedient wife. And love. These women also have various motives: A better and more prosperous life in America. A green card that gives them a freedom and independence they have never known. And also love. But do these marriages succeed? What are the cultural conflicts involved? Are there scammers for gullible and desperate men to discover before, or after it is too late? And are there horror stories of deceit and violence?

Between Grief and Nothing is an autobiography by Wade Stinson that explores those issues and much more. The title is taken from a quote in William Faulkner's short story, "The Wild Palms." "Between grief and nothing, I will take grief." The book begins by establishing Stinson's identity, family, and culture in rural Alabama. The voice and prose is distinctly Southern as the author himself. He introduces readers to his world and the life he knew beginning in 1957. He describes his family of destructive, alcoholic men and forgiving, durable women. The reader will learn about the distorted dreams Stinson conjured amid the quirky, and often humorous life of rural Alabama. A life of rebellion against the austere Pentecostal religion of his father. And, a youthful perspective of his first experience with alcohol, sex, and love.

The book vividly details the trauma of a diving accident that left him a quadriplegic at seventeen years of age and follows him through the crude realities associated with paralysis: bodily functions, humiliating incidents, and sex as a paralysis victim. An issue many literary critics express as one too often "fudged upon" by evasive, celebrity writers. Stinson continues with his slow and measured reemergence into society as he finally accepts his paralyzed condition and begins to enjoy life in the swamps of Alabama. And later, his reckless escapades to try to recapture his wild youth. And afterwards, his first marriage and the teaching position he earned that provided the rewarding relationships with students and their acceptance of him as a "wheelchair bound teacher.

Apart from the book's early focus on the eccentric Southern environment and the trauma of quadriplegia, the remaining focus will be a revelation of the growing phenomenon of American men who seek and marry Russian women through internet introduction agencies. A strange marriage between a Russian bride and a quadriplegic Southerner is explored in perspective. The reader will follow this quirky marriage with its episodes of extreme love, cultural conflict, and personal turmoil.

The audience will finish this book not with pity, but entertained, warned, and inspired by the survival, ho


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