All the small things
Mendel’s Dwarf follows the fictional story of Benedict Lambert: a cynical, smart, and brilliantly funny genetic researcher, and an achondroplastic dwarf. Benedict leads us through his world: “a world of obstacles provided by the things of everyday life—chairs; laboratory benches; public toilets; buses; and, of course, people.” We look on, intrigued and compassionate, but never pitying, at this dwarf with his sharp mind and dark wit.
Benedict was born to “normal” parents, grew up in a normal house, and attended a normal school. His upbringing, however, was far from normal. A mixture of schoolyard bullying, derogatory presumptions about his intelligence, and a perpetual lack of eye contact plagued Benedict’s childhood and adolescence. Even his own father was culpable here, as Ben recalls, “Never throughout my whole life can I remember him looking directly at me. Always, his glance was aslant, tangential, as though that way he might not notice.” The