Paralyzed for Life. No laughing matter, right?

Think about it. Those three words strike terror in the hearts of the nondisabled population. They carry a freight-load of negative cultural baggage, perpetuated by tear-jerking television melodramas that present “paralyzed for life” as a fate worse than death. This damaging mainstream perception is gradually fading as society grows more enlightened about the realities of disability, but echoes of it remain stubbornly persistent.

Allen Rucker must have known this when he titled his book The Best Seat in the House: How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed For Life. Note the ironic counterpoint that craftily piques curiosity: A casual book-browser may well ask: How can being paralyzed for life give you the “best seat in the house?”

As an established writer in Hollywood with experience in a variety of show-biz occupations, Rucker is uniquely equipped to answer that question with engaging candor and personal revelation. A T10 paraplegic since 1996 due to a rare, paralyzing case of transverse myelitis at age 51, he also has a valuable perspective that combines the wisdom of his nondisabled experience with the physical and psychological complexities of becoming suddenly disabled at an age that defies the statistical norm.

Rucker’s established penchant for jaded humor, along with his willingness to indulge the reader’s curiosity, makes The Best Seat (now in paperback from HarperCollins) one of the most engaging disability memoirs to date. And while some long-time readers with disabilities