A writer with a stutter offers a thought-provoking defence of disfluency and takes a sideswipe at Freud

When Jonty Claypole was growing up with a stutter, the role models available were not encouraging: Porky Pig; Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours; and, of course, the novelty single “Stutter Rap”. A condition that humiliated Claypole and countless stuttering contemporaries was seldom played for anything but laughs in popular culture.

That may have changed – a little – but it has not changed enough. The project of this book is to unravel some of the cultural and medical history of, and explain the complex and varied conditions that affect, what are usually called “speech disorders” – and to argue that their impact on those who have them is substantially worsened by a society that insists on seeing them straightforwardly as disorders in the first place. Claypole marshals everyone from Deleuze and Guattari to Lewis Carroll and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o to give evidence.

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