Picks and Pans Review: Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence

updated 07/31/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/31/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Hockenberry

I cannot reach the cornflakes in my cupboard," writes Hockenberry. "I cannot use most revolving doors." What Hockenberry, an ABC correspondent can do, with verve, grit and unflinching candor, is transport us into a world of wheelchairs, catheters and the occasional unkindness of strangers.

The author, now 39 and a paraplegic since 19, was hitchhiking with his college roommate when a driver who had picked them up fell asleep at the wheel, sending the car over an embankment. "The most powerful sensation I have ever felt," he writes of that moment, "is of no sensation at all."

Moving Violations is most moving when Hockenberry retraces his inward journey from the cocky kid who bounced back from nine months in two rehab hospitals to the National Public Radio correspondent who ventured where no disabled journalist had gone: along a steep mountain road to interview Kurdish refugees in the Gulf War while clinging to the back of a donkey.

Among the human jackasses he encounters is the flight attendant who asks, "Are you able to do it with a woman?" Hockenberry is, as he explains—graphically and whimsically—in other chapters. But he is also aware of his own foibles, such as the need to prove himself in danger zones. "I was drawn to...the places that I was most afraid to think of going," he admits. In this brave memoir, Hockenberry may have reached his ultimate destination. (Hyperion, $24.95)

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