A sweeping chronology of human deafness fortified with the author’s personal struggles and triumphs.

HEARING HAPPINESS

DEAFNESS CURES IN HISTORY

A well-rounded history of deafness and its associated pseudo-curative “quackery.”

In an effective amalgam of research and memoir, Virdi astutely traces hearing loss treatments and attitudes from the mid-1800s through the modern era. She also incorporates her personal struggles with deafness throughout her life, which lends the narrative a sense of depth and intimacy beyond the more clinical analysis. The author describes how she became gravely ill with nearly fatal bacterial meningitis at age 4 while her family was living in Kuwait. The illness rendered her deaf. For Virdi, the physical, social, and cultural struggles of being deaf became a strange new world populated by clunky analog hearing aids and stigmatized labeling. Being initially misclassified as hearing-impaired instead of profoundly deaf, Virdi experienced struggles with identity formation throughout her early years and into young adulthood. Digging into archival histories, the author explores the early use of restorative diets, acoustic instrumentation such as ear trumpets, artificial eardrums (“an attractive alternative to awkward and bulky acoustic aids”), and other ostensible treatments, including many unconventional, usually ineffective “cure-all” therapies. The text advances onward to more progressive technology like custom-fit hearing aids and cochlear implants, which provided helpful treatment even as hoax cures continued to proliferate. The author is most engaging when she graphically illustrates these oddly fascinating medical and technological treatments administered to hearing-impaired patients. Even readers with a casual interest in audiology and the cloaked cultural strictures of audism will find Virdi’s meticulous research and honest evaluation commendable; some may even wish for more of the author’s journey. Her multifaceted narrative offers both a personal and historical perspective on the plight of the deaf and how modern technological advancements usher in new possibilities. Virdi enhances the text with vintage photos and ads for a variety of products and “fanciful fads.”

A sweeping chronology of human deafness fortified with the author’s personal struggles and triumphs. (b/w illustrations)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-226-69061-2

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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