A blunt medical account that explores surprising terrain.

BENT BUT NOT BROKEN

A MEMOIR

A playwright recounts his struggles with an embarrassing penis ailment in this debut memoir.

During the Great Recession, Cummings and his boyfriend of 16 years, Adam, moved to a small studio apartment in Queens. The author had noticed that his penis had begun to bend painfully to the right at an angle of 22 degrees, and he was becoming alarmed by it. A trip to a doctor confirmed that he was suffering from Peyronie’s disease, a genetic condition in which plaque builds up between the tissue layers of the penis. “Think of a piece of scotch tape on a balloon,” said his physician, searching for a suitable explanation. “When you blow up the balloon it bends in the direction of the tape because of the constriction. We need to break up that tape.” The treatment involved painful injections, not to mention exposing himself to a seemingly endless number of dispassionate medical professionals. The effect on his sex life—and the added stress for the already anxious playwright—put a strain on Cummings’ relationship with Adam and his flings with a number of other men. Even more, the situation caused the author to contemplate his long relationship with his suddenly endangered body part: what it meant to himself as a man and a mortal. Cummings’ skills as a writer are apparent from the beginning. His prose is effortlessly clever, finding the entertaining medium between lyricism and sass: “As I plowed through the field of life with its fecund and fallow seasons, I had at least had this decent tuber to hold on to. But blight was setting in, famine most likely soon to follow. Death felt more real. I was concerned that depression would take me over. It did—but not for long.” The frankness with which he discusses his problem, the treatment, and his sex life makes for an oddly shocking book—one rarely reads quite so much about penises, as central as they often are to literature. He manages to demystify and destigmatize Peyronie’s, which though obscure is not completely uncommon. More than that, he makes the most of an undignified opportunity to examine his own masculinity.

A blunt medical account that explores surprising terrain.

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-942762-61-4

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Heliotrope Books

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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