Former Dean Recounts His Struggle After Spinal Injury

May 16, 2019

University Showcase 5/17 8a: Jim Linnell was six months away from retirement from the University of New Mexico when he became a quadriplegic. His new book, “Take It Lying Down,” chronicles his life since the accident.

Linnell is the former Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He's also a writer, teacher and director and is professor emeritus in the department of theatre and dance at UNM. Linnell helped establish the MFA degree in dramatic writing at UNM.

  In 2012, he went on a family vacation on Mexico’s Baja peninsula for his son’s 40th birthday. Linnell went out at night for a walk with his wife, Jennifer, and fell off the front porch, fracturing the bones in his neck. It left him a quadriplegic. But it was an incomplete spinal cord injury, and doctors gave him a two-year window to regain function in his limbs.


The book is full of humor, pathos, anger and many literary references that helped Linnell understand how he had to create a new story for himself after one accident upended his world.

Linnell will give a public reading from his book on August 22, 2019 at Bookworks in Albuquerque.