Bodies of Truth

Bodies of Truth

Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine

Edited by Dinty W. Moore, Erin Murphy, and Renée K. Nicholson
Foreword by Jacek L. Mostwin

200 pages
1 illustration


January 2019


$19.95 Pre-order

About the Book

“Medicine still contains an oral tradition, passed down in stories: the stories patients tell us, the ones we tell them, and the ones we tell ourselves,” writes contributor Madaline Harrison. Bodies of Truth continues this tradition through a variety of narrative approaches by writers representing all facets of health care. And, since all of us have been or will be touched by illness or disability—our own or that of a loved one—at some point in our lives, any reader of this anthology can relate to the challenges, frustrations, and pain—both physical and emotional—that the contributors have experienced.

Bodies of Truth offers perspectives on a wide array of issues, from food allergies, cancer, and neurology to mental health, autoimmune disorders, and therapeutic music. These experiences are recounted by patients, nurses, doctors, parents, children, caregivers, and others who attempt to articulate the intangible human and emotional factors that surround life when it intersects with the medical field.

Author Bio

Dinty W. Moore is a professor and director of creative writing at Ohio University. He is the author of numerous books, including Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. Erin Murphy is a professor of English and creative writing at the Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College. She is the author of seven collections of poetry and coeditor of Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers. Renée K. Nicholson is an assistant professor in the programs for multi- and interdisciplinary studies at West Virginia University.Jacek L. Mostwin is a professor of urology and the director of the Division of Neurological and Reconstructive Urology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also serves as faculty affiliate of the Berman Institute of Bioethics.


Bodies of Truth takes us to a world of miraculous drugs and drug addictions, of doctors who wonder how to shake hands with the prisoners they treat and nurses who come to confession because death has worked its way into their souls. Above all, it’s truth: that our bodies, and the bodies of those we love and care for, so often take us to places we never knew existed, to find strengths we never knew we had. If illness and death are lonesome roads we must at some point travel, I can’t think of a more fitting companion than this volume. The writers here come as strangers to us, but they bring us gifts—their stories—that connect us whether in pain or compassion.”—Paul Shepherd, editor of Hospital Drive and author of More Like Not Running Away

“I read Bodies of Truth almost in one sitting, so compelling are the stories. To read this many of them—different illnesses and disabilities, and from different perspectives—is strangely heartening. This is all of us, represented here, wounded in one way or another, or looking after the wounded. If we can say how it is, and be listened to, surely the exposure will heal a lot of festering. I am glad to have this beautifully orchestrated, passionately written collection.”—Fleda Brown, author of My Wobbly Bicycle: Meditations on Cancer and the Creative Life

Bodies of Truth offers personal accounts of individuals caught up in the lived experience of illness. . . . They are not necessarily asking us to judge, to change the world, or even to react. They merely ask, as did Coleridge’s ancient mariner, that we pause to hear the tale, setting aside for a moment the tasks at hand.”—Jacek L. Mostwin, professor of urology and the director of the Division of Neurological and Reconstructive Urology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and faculty affiliate of the Berman Institute of Bioethics

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Forward by Jacek L Mostwin
“Two Hearts” by Brian Doyle           
“Spared” by Deborah Burghardt
“A Measure of Acceptance” by Floyd Skloot
“One Little Mind, Our Lie, Dr. Lie” by Matthew S. Smith
“Locked in to Life” by Mark Brazaitis
“Rendered Mute” by Teresa Blankmeyer Burke
“Jamie’s Place” by Michael Bérubé
“A Day in the Grammar of Disease” by Sonya Huber
“Marked” by William Bradley
“750 Words About Cancer” by Rebecca Housel
“The Power of a Handshake” by Hugh Silk
“Submerged” by Tenley Lozano
“Where Do You Go From Alston Street?” by Kat Moore
“Confession” by Diane Kraynak
“This Moment” by Adriana Páramo
“Sit Still and Uncover Your Eyes” by Elizabeth Brady
“Overtones” by Meredith Davies Hadaway
“The Way of the Spring” by Patrick Donnelly
“Type One” by Riley Passmore
“The Bad Patient” by Sandra Beasley
“A Tribute to the Pharmacist” by Taison Bell
“Flying Into Jerusalem” by Katherine Macfarlane
“Reluctant Reliance” by Erin M. Kelly
“Interview with My Mother” by Belinda Waller-Peterson
“Days of the Giants” by Madaline Harrison
Source Acknowledgements
About the Editors
List of Contributors

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