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Leg: A candid memoir of resilience

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Image courtesy of Abrams  

© 2023 Abrams Press
304 pages

From the moment he was born, Greg Marshall was endowed with two things: a right leg with "tight tendons" that twisted his foot on that side, and certain oversized intimate body parts that his mother was just too eager to mention.

The latter was an eye-rolling embarrassment.

The former was never really a big deal to Marshall. Other than wearing out a lot of sneakers, he walked with a limp, so what?

He was never bullied much about it, though his siblings teased him in a way that siblings will. He never let it stop him from playing tennis or exploring his Salt Lake City neighborhood. He traveled, appeared in local theater, ran for president of his class, and had an otherwise normal childhood. Still, his leg was something people noticed.

He hoped that no one would notice he was Gay too, but they must have, since nobody seemed surprised when he came out as a teen.

By then, Marshall's mother had been fighting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for years with surgeries and various chemotherapies that left her wrung out and scarred. She was in the midst of another battle when Marshall's father was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that affected his muscles and progressed quickly. As the elder Marshall slipped away — the timing of which he decided himself — the family rallied around him, teasing, deflecting, and grieving.

Marshall was in his twenties when that happened, and it highlighted his shaky, barely controlled penchant for hypochondria that he'd had for some time. He worried about his "tight tendons" and cerebral palsy, a diagnosis he'd recently discovered. He fretted about getting AIDS. Most of all, he wondered if he'd ever find someone to love him...

Courtesy photo  

Hoo-boy, Leg, Marshall's memoir, is the kind of book that makes you hyperventilate. On many — very many — pages, there's boisterous, Saturday-morning-cartoon-like, going-in-five-different-directions chaos that might be sibling-based, or parental, deeply personal, humorous, relational, or sexual. And on that note, hoo-boy, there are some wildly messy and explicit pages here. Marshall writes candidly about his sex life: doors wide open, sometimes literally.

Ah, but he also writes about the kind of love that's wrapped in a scrap of fleece and handled carefully, the kind that feels like it might blow away if you're not careful. That's a delicate thing in the midst of a madcap tale of a limb and the Gay man attached to it, and it's sneaky, too: you'll be looking every which way at Marshall's life and boom! Tears.

Give yourself some time with this book, and breathe deep. Most readers will find it chaotic but thoroughly enjoyable for beach read, airport, or a staycation. Don't skip Leg or you'll kick yourself.