Told in a broken shorthand voice, Mazza's language is acute, evoking a place where the patients, the caregivers, and the system are all disabled. Teri and Cleo are minimum-wage nurse-aides at a state ward for severely retarded and physically handicapped children. They are expected to feed, bathe, clothe, and carry out the required therapies for their patients in a 4-hour shift. They're working within a system where money for therapy is only continued if therapy shows improvement--and yet the state-paid therapists who oversee the ward know the patients will never show any improvement. To keep the money coming in, it is up to the minimum-wage caregivers to "see" and chart important improvements, thus keeping the therapy program alive.
Blinded in their own way by their pet-like adoption of favorite patients, Teri and Cleo struggle to remain both optimistic and realistic. As their personal failures mount--and even transpose or emulate the travesties within the state ward--Teri and Cleo, with their own unseen "disabilities" in dealing with their lives and pasts, react harshly to the breakdown in the emotional balancing act.
About the Author
Cris Mazza's first novel, How to Leave a Country, won the PEN / Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction. Some of her other notable earlier titles include Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? (FC2, 1998), Your Name Here: ___ (Coffee House Press, 1995), and Dog People (Coffee House Press, 1997). She is also co-editor of Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction (FC2, 1995), and Chick-Lit 2 (No Chick Vics) (FC2, 1996). Mazza's most recent books include Indigenous / Growing Up Californian (City Lights, 2003) and Homeland (Small Press Distribution, 2004). A native of Southern California, Mazza has lived outside Chicago since 1993. She is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Praise for Disability: A Novella…
"Disability is as dense, relentless, tender, savage, and strange as moment-by-moment life itself, conjured on the page whole." --Elizabeth Searle, author of <i>Celebrities in Disgrace</i>
Praise for Mazza's Girl Beside Him:
"A gifted editor of innovative fiction by women, Cris Mazza is also one of its most audacious practitioners." --Jaimy Gordon, author of <i>Bogeywoman</i>