The Worldwide Church of the Handicapped and Other Stories

Williams, Marie Sheppard

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Collection (Short Stories)

Annotated by:
Poirier, Suzanne
  • Date of entry: Feb-19-1998
  • Last revised: Dec-11-2006


The narrator of these short stories is a social worker who works for an agency for the blind, many of whose clients are diabetic, alcoholic, or mentally disabled as well. Over the course of the stories, the narrator leaves this work to go back to school in the arts, a personal ambivalence that may play some role in her continual, often dry critique of her clients, her work, and herself. Mostly, though, she casts a gruffly compassionate eye on the hard yet often rich and triumphant lives her clients lead, faced with financial and physical hardship as well as social ostracism.


Some people may find the language the narrator uses to describe herself or her clients as harsh or not "politically correct." In actuality, I feel she looks steadily and realistically at the hard work of being "handicapped" in today's social and health-care world. She looks just as steadily at her own frustration and love of her work and clients. And she's not afraid to laugh at either herself or them--although there's always a sense that, ultimately, her clients have a more mature grasp on the joys as well as the cruelties of life than she does.


Coffee House

Place Published

Minneapolis, Minn.



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