cover image Pee-Shy: A Memoir

Pee-Shy: A Memoir

Frank Spinelli. Kensington, $15 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-0-7582-9132-5

Spinelli, a physician, details his sexual abuse at the hands of a scoutmaster when he was 11 and the ways it reverberated in his adult life. Spinelli suffers from paruresis, a phobia in which urinating around others is almost impossible (many victims of sexual abuse are similarly “pee shy.”). When Spinelli discovers that his abuser has been adopting young boys, he makes the decision to expose the man, and confront his own unhappiness. The narrative traces his investigation, and also recreates the incidents of his abuse. Spinelli writes with candor about his phobia, and early chapters document the daily life of a driven, lonely, extremely neurotic gay doctor in upscale Chelsea (Spinelli, an internist, is also the author of The Advocate Guide to Gay Men’s Health and Wellness). Yet Spinelli remains very much the child of working-class Italian parents, and as he begins his quest, and falls in love with a fellow doctor, his prose gains depth and grows less mannered. Spinelli deftly portrays his years as a chubby, awkward adolescent and the complexity of his reaction to the molestation. Spinelli’s refreshing honesty as a protagonist make this memoir an important testament to a reality that is too often concealed by shame or fear. (Jan.)