The release of a new book by an author I know is always a delight, and Kelly Davio’s essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability, is no exception. Kelly writes clearly, concisely, and at times with wit about chronic conditions (specifically her own experience with myasthenia gravis) and ableism. She says what is rarely spoken about the ignorance, and at times mean-spiritedness, about people with disabilities. I shook my head in disbelief about some of her experiences of discrimination, exclusion, and disregard, yet, sadly, I know she writes truthfully.
As a retired nurse, my stomach knotted as I had to acknowledge my own limited understanding and complicity in systems that too often focus on the diagnosis and lose sight of the person. It’s Just Nerves is a tough, yet necessary, read.
Sonya Huber, an author and teacher whose “body is also awry,” reviewed Davios’ book recently in Brevity Magazine. Huber’s opening summarizes Davio’s book well:
As many essayists and memoirists know, poets often stroll into nonfiction and bowl a perfect strike, knocking us all over like so many bowling pins. Kelly Davio’s skill as a poet in full effect in the pages of her new essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability. She’s underselling with that word “notes,” as each of the twenty-five essays contained here is a miracle of compression. And as the best poems and essays do, these works pull upward and outward with taut energy, connecting specific experiences and resonant details to overarching themes relevant to any reader who happens to live in a body.
Huber’s review conveys how Davio’s collection is a fine example of the power of the essay to reflect and make sense of life. Even better is to read Davio’s own words about her experience of disability. The book is available wherever books are sold.
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.