Stilled Life
October 7, 2010 9:02 AM   Subscribe

What are some literary works that depict or are written in the voice of someone who is paralyzed or who, for medical and/or existential reasons, cannot move his/her body without great effort?

Kafka's The Metamorphosis or Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun would be great examples. The late Tony Judt's powerful descriptions of ALS are amazing, but I seek fiction. Oblomov is also amazing, but is less about the body than I'd like.
posted by taramosalata to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Patrick McGrath's The Grotesque is worth checking out.
posted by Merzbau at 9:06 AM on October 7, 2010

Jean-Dominique Bauby composed his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, after suffering a paralyzing stroke. Most if it centers around his reflections after the stroke.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Samuel Beckett - Malone Dies, Happy Days and probably others I'm forgetting.
posted by misteraitch at 9:11 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Marcia Muller has her heroine, Sharon McCone, solve the mystery of who shot her from her hospital bed while suffering from "locked-in" syndrome in Locked In.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:14 AM on October 7, 2010

There is a recent play called "The Accident," written by Lydia Stryk, that starts with monologues inside the head of the paralyzed character (after a traumatic car incident) and goes through the recovery period to full mobility.
posted by neitheror at 9:14 AM on October 7, 2010

Cynthia Voigt's Izzy, Willy-Nilly is YA, but still a powerful portrayal of a teenager who loses a leg in a drunk driving accident.
posted by litnerd at 9:43 AM on October 7, 2010

Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme books feature a main character (Lincoln) who is a quadraplegic.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:44 AM on October 7, 2010

Though, sorry, they're written in third person, not first person. Missed that part.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:45 AM on October 7, 2010

The World I Made for Her by Thomas Moran tells the story of a man in ICU on a ventilator. He falls in love with one of his nurses. Though the book is fiction, Moran actually experienced most of the medical stuff in the book.

It's a good read.
posted by Saminal at 9:55 AM on October 7, 2010

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman (YA)
posted by morganannie at 10:55 AM on October 7, 2010

posted by MrMoonPie at 12:00 PM on October 7, 2010

Best answer: Iain Banks's "The Bridge" is largely told from inside the head of a post-road-accident coma victim. Damned good it is, too.
posted by Decani at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2010

It's non-fiction I'm afraid but The Woman In Bed Number Ten by Sue Baier is a good example of the genre.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2010

Best answer: I wonder whether you might be interested in The Singing Detective by the late, astonishingly talented Dennis Potter.

It is a fictional work (though a tv series rather than a novel), and the main (somewhat autobiographical) protagonist is ostensibly confined to a hospital bed.

At any rate it is thoroughly entertaining and seems to fit your criteria, if only obliquely.
posted by trip and a half at 7:55 PM on October 7, 2010

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