Nancy Ma Irs Essays On Abortion

By Helene Atwan

We received news of the death of Nancy Mairs just yesterday. All of us at Beacon, including her first editor, Andy Hrycyna, so valued Nancy’s voice, as an accomplished essayist, as a pioneer in writing about women, about faith, about social justice, and about disability: always fearlessly, always with crystal clarity. She was also a tireless activist, attending demonstrations even when she had lost significant mobility. Everyone who knew her was surprised by her frank, unsentimental assessment of life from “waist-high,” by her generosity and humor, by her insightful and unabashed ability to speak the truth in essays of brilliance. All of us lucky enough to have spent time in her company will always treasure those times.

For all of our friends in the writing, feminist, disability, and social justice communities, take a few minutes to read this superb obituary by William Grimes. And join us in celebrating the life and work of Nancy Mairs.


About the Author 

Helene Atwan has been director of Beacon Press since 1995.

Waist-High In The World
A Life Among the Nondisabled.
By Nancy Mairs.
Beacon, $20.

he essayist Nancy Mairs, who has used a wheelchair since 1992 because of progressive multiple sclerosis, realistically explores the problems and rewards of living with a disability in the 10 essays collected in ''Waist-High in the World.'' She discusses sex, infidelity and being looked after, and talks about her thoughts on suicide, her depression and her fears for the future. Her essay on ''The Wider World'' covers subjects as mundane as the size of doorways (will the wheelchair fit into the bathroom?) as well as complex topics like how the disabled are perceived, abortion and the ''right to die''; she also includes thoughts from other women with disabilities. Ms. Mairs shows the hope with which these women try ''to live productively and passionately.''

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