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I am still unlearning the habit of secrecy. And yet, whenever somebody discovers that I am deaf, my body still reacts with churning terror. How do you build up a sense of robust pride when your body has taught itself to be fearful?
Fiona Murphy’s memoir about being deaf is a revelation.
Secrets are heavy, burdensome things. Imagine carrying a secret that if exposed could jeopardise your chances of securing a job and make you a social outcast. Fiona Murphy kept her deafness a secret for over twenty-five years.
But then, desperate to hold onto a career she’d worked hard to pursue, she tried hearing aids. Shocked by how the world sounded, she vowed never to wear them again. After an accident to her hand, she discovered that sign language could change her life, and that Deaf culture could be part of her identity.
Just as Fiona thought she was beginning to truly accept her body, she was diagnosed with a rare condition that causes the bones of the ears to harden. She was steadily losing her residual hearing. The news left her reeling.
Blending memoir with observations on the healthcare industry, The Shape of Sound is a story about the corrosive power of secrets, stigma and shame, and how deaf experiences and disability are shaped by economics, social policy, medicine and societal expectations.
This is the story of how Fiona learns to listen to her body. If you enjoy the writing of Bri Lee and Fiona Wright, this is a book for you.
Author: Fiona Murphy
Paperback Published 30 March 2021 288 pages
‘I devoured this in a day, fascinated, enlightened, moved.’ - Helen Garner
‘In The Shape of Sound Fiona Murphy impressively turns the intimate yet inanimate sense of hearing into a tangible, tactical object to be shared and explored with readers. Through a personal lens, she investigates the social, environmental, economical and political impacts of deafness and disability with rigour, yet without ever losing a pervading humanity. The Shape of Sound is an impressive accomplishment, equally industrious and delicate, and an exciting addition to Australian disability literature.’ -Kylie Maslen
‘A unique voice that reveals the world anew. Mark the name Fiona Murphy.’ -Bri Li, author of Eggshell Skull