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ON LEARNING TO HEAL

OR, WHAT MEDICINE DOESN'T KNOW (CRITICAL GLOBAL HEALTH: EVIDENCE, EFFICACY, ETHNOGRAPHY)

An optimistic, ruminative appreciation for the art, the power, and the cultivation of human healing.

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In this memoir, a man with Crohn’s disease reflects on a lifetime spent attenuating symptoms using a combination of modern medicine and an intuitive, holistic healing approach.

When Cohen, a gender and sexuality studies professor at Rutgers University, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 13, he feared it would compromise him medically (and psychologically) forever. The author recalls being somberly advised that a lifetime of immunosuppressive medication and “periods of remission” were the best scenarios modern medicine could offer. In his early 20s as a graduate student in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982, Cohen witnessed the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Since he was a young, gay man, a life-threatening intestinal attack was initially (and wrongly) perceived as an HIV infection. From that grueling Crohn’s episode came a radical, “miraculous,” “out-of-body” epiphany and a newfound appreciation for learning the art of self-healing. With an appealing mixture of intellectual prose, spirited perspective, and refreshing honesty, Cohen shares how, over a four-decade timeline, he nurtured a desire and a respect for the healing process and how nature (specifically trees) aided him on his wellness journey. He argues that the “Western understandings of therapeutic action” have steered modern medicine toward a quick, biochemical, “fix it” modality, discouraging patients from fostering their own abilities to learn to heal. This discussion as well as a deep dive into daily life with Crohn’s disease will find wide appeal with readers who consider modern medical care frustrating. Denser, divergent, referential deliberations on the history of medicine and clinical practice as well as ambiguous philosophies on the nature of illness will appeal more to academics. In A Body Worth Defending (2009), Cohen explored biological immunity, biopolitics, and “the apotheosis of the modern body.” In this book, he shifts his gaze toward how people can tap into their own intrinsic capacities to heal in conjunction with skilled clinical care and curative technologies. He stresses that self-healing needs to be encouraged at every level of health care delivery and promoted as another weapon in the biological arsenal against chronic illness. Cohen persuasively champions the benefits of therapeutic, reparative healing and the vital roles it plays in overall wellness.  

An optimistic, ruminative appreciation for the art, the power, and the cultivation of human healing.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781478016670

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

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The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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