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In the Little World - A True Story of Dwarfs, Love, and Trouble

This book grew out of an article that Richardson wrote for Esquire magazine about attending a convention of Little People of America, a once a year event that is attended by thousands of dwarfs. Richardson makes friends with amny of the particpants and his continued relationships with them make up the rest of the post-conference part of the book. He is a good writer, though perhaps better suited to the magazine format than the longer book style. I enjoyed the parts that talked about the dwarf world, interviews with people who have spent their entire lives less than four feet tall, some who have married people of average stature, some who have married people their own size, some who haven’t married at all. Dwarfism is quite rare and so this convention is one of the few chances that small statured people have to mingle with and meet people their own size.

The book is strongest when it is letting people tell their own stories. It is least strong when Richardson’s relations with some of the people involved -- a dwarf woman who befriends him, a couple unhappy with his protrayal of them in the magazine, a mother trying to get good medical care for her dwarf daughter and splitting up the rest of her family in the process -- because Richardson himself has his own set of problems. He is happily married with children and yet carries on this tumultous long-distance email and phone call friendship/relationship with a woman that only ends when the woman wants them to go into therapy to work out some of their differences and Richardson’s wife tells him flat out “friends don’t go into therapy together.” The long-suffering mother of the dwarf daughter is such a mess of a character that reading about her and her increasing obsession with the online world is wincingly painful. And, of course, I agreed with the couple who were upset at his portrayal of them -- in the quest for a hook for his story, he wound up carelessly hurting these people’s feelings becaue he felt like he was one of them, in on the scene, when he clearly wasn’t. And, of course, like any popular writer, when he starts looking at social phenomena and quoting the likes of Derrida and other French philosophers discussing the nature of “difference” I just start skimming.