Blind Man's Bluff: Book summary and reviews of Blind Man's Bluff by James Tate Hill

Blind Man's Bluff

A Memoir

by James Tate Hill

Blind Man's Bluff by James Tate Hill X
Blind Man's Bluff by James Tate Hill
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About this book

Book Summary

A writer's humorous and often-heartbreaking tale of losing his sight―and how he hid it from the world.

At age sixteen, James Tate Hill was diagnosed with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, a condition that left him legally blind. When high-school friends stopped calling and a disability counselor advised him to aim for C's in his classes, he tried to escape the stigma by pretending he could still see.

In this unfailingly candid yet humorous memoir, Hill discloses the tricks he employed to pass for sighted, from displaying shelves of paperbacks he read on tape to arriving early on first dates so women would have to find him. He risked his life every time he crossed a street, doing his best to listen for approaching cars. A good memory and pop culture obsessions like Tom Cruise, Prince, and all things 1980s allowed him to steer conversations toward common experiences.

For fifteen years, Hill hid his blindness from friends, colleagues, and lovers, even convincing himself that if he stared long enough, his blurry peripheral vision would bring the world into focus. At thirty, faced with a stalled writing career, a crumbling marriage, and a growing fear of leaving his apartment, he began to wonder if there was a better way.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Stirring…This moving account doesn't disappoint." ― Publishers Weekly

"A coming-of-age story worthy of its hero's stellar VHS collection of '80s and '90s movies. Hill's journey toward learning to live with his blindness will have you wincing, crying, sighing, and cheering right along with him―not to mention sharing in his love of Molly Ringwald, The Golden Girls, Prince, and Tom Cruise." ― Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, best-selling author of Seinfeldia

"Told with humor and grace, Blind Man's Bluff is a story of reinventions―ones both enormous and minute, ones both forced and earned. It's also an education, and an illumination." ― Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize–finalist author of The Great Believers

"Compelling and honest, James Tate Hill writes of the isolation, confusion, and longing for connection, which is what it means to be human. A gripping and unflinching journey of love, acceptance, and finding the courage to tell your own story." ― Alison Stine, author of Road Out of Winter

"Reading Blind Man's Bluff is like going out for coffee with your funniest friend. It's also about which Golden Girl you'd most want your doctor to resemble, assuming that your doctor must resemble a Golden Girl. (The answer is Dorothy. Obviously.) It's a smart, thoughtful, and hilarious book, and it will engage you from the first page to the last." ― Best-selling writer Carolyn Parkhurst, author of Harmony

"Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Hill's narratives on disability, pop culture, and just getting through life are filled with heartbreak, humor, and hope." ― Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner

This information about Blind Man's Bluff shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Robin M. (Newark, DE)

Not Bluffing
Blind Man's Bluff is a memoir of an ordinary man, not a celebrity, who gradually goes blind during the years that young adults grow into independence. The reader travels the maturation process with Hill as he stumbles along, with anger and disappointment, with humor and denial, as he tries to "pass" as a sighted person.
This book was engaging, funny, sad and a great read.
I'd recommend it to my book club; however we don't read books about living people, but I will recommend it to my friends!

Linda K. (Sunset, SC)

Blind Man's Bluff
Blind Man's Bluff was not only an informative view into the world of a visually challenged young man, but also a very sensitive and often amusing story. Mr. Hill's memoir of coping with diminishing eyesight and never giving up his hopes to be an author, journalist and educator was inspiring...never giving up on love, romance and friendship.

His difficulties as a writer were not any different from other aspiring writer except he managed his vision challenges with patience, persistence and ingenuity. His accounts of learning to get around town and campus were both scary and amusing. Trying not to reveal or discuss his visual limitations was often ill-advised...he really lived a charmed life when relying on counting foot steps and sounds.

The final chapter has advice for others facing similar problems and what he has learned on his journey...so inspiring.

Karen S. (Allston, MA)

Delightful and insightful- exceeded my expectations
I loved this book and the manner in which it did not follow the more predictable story lines for a memoir about vision loss. This is less medical and more about growing up and struggling. The loss of vision is a context that sharpens the struggles of so many people—falling in love, falling out of love, learning to drive, finding new apartments, managing college social life and studies.

This author had a writing style I personally like very much: spare descriptions of events that manage to convey an enormous amount of detail and feelings. James has great appreciation for his close friends great forbearance for the many slights he experiences from the sighted-but-unaware people in his world.

Ruth H. (Sebring, FL)

Determination and Perseverance
An enlightening and humorous story that touched my heart. I was curious how a blind person can cope in today's rushed life. Especially when you can't drive. Also I have a personal interest, my 87 yr old mother went suddenly blind in her middle 70s and I wondered why she did some of the things she did. Unlike JT, she gave up, and prefers to be taken care of. Wish I had this book 10 years ago. Anyhow, James, you are truly an amazing man for all you have accomplished. Luckily you had some sight but the risks you took were pretty scary. So very glad you and Lori got together, it does take a team to deal with blindness. Good luck in all your future endeavors and continue to persevere! Life it good!

BTW, I lived in West Virginia near Charleston for about 10 years.

Thank you BookBrowse for the opportunity to review this ARC.

Janice A. (Colfax, WI)

Blind Man's Bluff
At times I found myself judging Hill and the choices he made regarding who and what he told about his blindness and his willingness to accept assistance. I then had to remind myself that no one knows how they would respond in the same circumstances. Losing most of his sight at age 16 was traumatic, especially when almost no services, including counseling, seemed to be offered to him that would make his life a bit easier. These are the themes of Hill's life after going blind. Though he succeeded in high school and as an undergraduate and graduate student, he faced hurdles that were some of his own making due to his reluctance to be open about his disability and seek help from others. And sometimes when he sought assistance, it seemed to be uncoordinated and lacking. Hill's growth seemed to be one step forward and two steps back much of the time. Luckily, he continued to learn about himself, the willingness of others to help without pitying him and to accept the love of and kindness from friends and family.

Kathy (southern ME)

Compelling Memoir
Blind Man's Bluff is James Tate Hill's aptly named memoir about losing his vision as a teenager and the resulting years in which he attempts to hide his vision loss, especially from strangers. While this could have been a sad story, Hill is full of self-effacing humor and dry wit that make this an enjoyable read. While his farce in hiding his vision loss may sound strange at first, Hill felt like an awkward teenager upon losing his sight - old enough to know life with vision, but not old enough to feel confident in his new state as a vision impaired person. The story follows him full circle from diagnosis to acceptance and all of the phases in between, as well as the effects this had on his personal life, including a troubled marriage. There were aspects of his life that he breezes past, where I found myself wanting more, but all in all, an interesting and honest memoir.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

James Tate Hill

James Tate Hill is an editor for Monkeybicycle and contributing editor at Literary Hub, where he writes a monthly audiobooks column. The Best American Essays has chosen two of his works as "Notable," and he won the Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel for Academy Gothic. Born in West Virginia, he lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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