A lighthearted approach to the serious matter of urological health.

I MARRIED A PENIS DOCTOR WHO FIXES WOMEN TOO

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.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

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 slender, highly satisfying collection.

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LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I MEAN

A dozen pieces of nonfiction from the acclaimed novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter.

In an appreciative introduction, New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als praises Didion as “a carver of words in the granite of the specific.” Stylistic precision (“Grammar is a piano I play by ear,” she writes) and the “energy and shimmer” of her prose are fully evident in this volume of previously uncollected pieces, written from 1968 to 2000. Although Didion portrays herself as a diffident, unconfident writer as a college student, she learned “a kind of ease with words” when working at Vogue, where she was assigned to write punchy, concise copy. The experience, she recalls, was “not unlike training with the Rockettes.” Several pieces were originally published in magazines, and two were introductions: one, to a volume of photography by Robert Mapplethorpe; another, to a memoir by director—and Didion’s friend—Tony Richardson. All reveal the author’s shrewd, acerbic critical eye. In “Getting Serenity,” she reports on a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous, where, she notes sardonically, one woman “adapted her mode of public address from analgesic commercials.” William Randolph Hearst’s “phantasmagoric barony,” San Simeon, “seemed to confirm the boundless promise of the place we lived,” but, she decided, was best admired from afar, like a fairy-tale castle, “floating fantastically.” Didion’s rejection from Stanford elicited an essay about college as consumption, and her skewering of consumption and artifice recur as themes—for example, in her observation of the ways women stage themselves for portrait photographs. Several particularly revealing essays focus on writing: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,” she famously admitted, a statement often misattributed to others. Writing, for her, is “the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act.” As these pieces show, it’s also an accomplished act of seduction.

A slender, highly satisfying collection.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-31848-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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