A lighthearted approach to the serious matter of urological health.


Everything you wanted to know about human plumbing but were afraid to ask.

In this amusing handbook, debut author Ruiz argues that it’s well past time for society to get over its discomfort regarding the urinary system. She not only provides critical information about it, she also encourages readers to be proactive participants in keeping it healthy. The author includes her own journey as a urologist’s wife, constantly fielding questions from strangers and loved ones alike—at first, somewhat gingerly, but eventually embracing her role as “a human conduit between the patient and the highly skilled doctor.” She employs an accessible style with colorful phrases scattered throughout; for instance, she uses a baseball analogy to detail the various urology subspecialties—her husband specializes in reconstructive surgery—and describes a weak urine flow thusly: “his pee stream was sounding more like a slow skipping rock across a very large pond.” Other topics include penile prostheses, prostate health, vasectomies, kidney stones, and hormone replacement therapy. Of particular note are chapters covering diabetes, the effects of anesthesia, a neighbor’s alarming case of parasites, and pelvic floor therapy. In this last instance, Ruiz discovered that the muscles at play are the same that one uses for holding in flatulence, and she says that a genteel doctor she interviewed “actually made the word ‘fart’ sound as though it were the harp in an orchestra.” Impressively, the book has already been translated into 13 languages; this may allow the author to break taboos globally for the sake of improving health. That said, there’s occasional confusion between possessives and plurals (“I knew he was fixing penis’s, I just never realized he was an expert with vagina’s too”) and a few other errors in the text (“vas deference”; “urinary track”). However, in the larger context of flawed health care systems, it’s notable that Ruiz mentions issues surrounding access to medical services in the second chapter, as seeing a specialist isn’t necessarily simple for underserved populations.

A lighthearted approach to the serious matter of urological health.

Pub Date: April 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952114-31-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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