Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Causing Big Trouble for the Little People

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Causing Big Trouble for the Little People

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL WRIGHT

IN THE LITTLE WORLD: A True Story of Dwarfs, Love and Trouble by John H Richardson (Abacus, pound sterling12.99)

IN July 1997, I stood in the lobby of an Atlanta Hotel, a first time attendee at the Little People of America national convention. As an averagesize man, I was very aware of my physical difference from most of the hundreds of people around me.

Almost exclusively, they were people of short stature, restricted growth, little people, dwarfs, whichever term you prefer.

Perhaps for those few initial moments, I got some idea of what being short in an average-size world must be like.

John H Richardson was there too, maybe at the same moment, to write an article for Esquire magazine, and it is from that article that this book developed. The opening pages describe the lobby scene. It is clear from his descriptions of "the classic pushed-in dwarfy look", "jumbo-sized heads" and later "the arms of Mr Potato Head" (at least he had the decency to qualify that one with "God forgive me"), that Richardson and I view the world through very different eyes.

In The Little World details Richardson's time at the convention and his subsequent relationship with five people he met there - a young dwarf couple, Michael and Meredith; Andrea, a single middle-aged shortstatured lady; and Evelyn and Jocelyn, an averagesize mother and her daughter with achondroplasia, who had come to Atlanta from Australia seeking medical advice.

Each relationship is troubled in its own way.

Michael and Meredith ultimately feel exploited by their interaction with Richardson. Andrea confronts him again and again about his motives and seeks assurances that their discussions will not appear in the book.

Eventually, she acquiesces and they do. Most disturbing is the chronicle of the disintegration of Evelyn's marriage as Jocelyn undergoes prolonged surgical treatment in the US. This occupies much of the second half of the book.

We look on as Evelyn grows further and further from the other members of her family and develops relationships with people she has met in cyberspace. …

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