Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


An American Checkup

James McManus

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




Physical is the story of a hard-living, happily married, middle-aged American (the author) who gets a three-day "executive checkup" at the Mayo Clinic and is thereby forced to confront his mortality, not to mention glove-wearing doctors and the pair of dominatrix-esque technicians who supervise his stress test quite strictly. James McManus must understand his revised actuarial odds in the light of his not-so-long-lived forebears and the fact that his youngest children are only six and five years old. He has to survive his own cardiovascular system, inherited habits, and genetic handicaps long enough to see Bea and Grace into adulthood. But with so much at stake, and in spite of his terror of death, he may not have the willpower to follow the Mayo clinicians' advice.

On a related health front, McManus's twenty-nine-year-old daughter, Bridget, has lived with juvenile diabetes since she was four, and the Bush Administration's opposition to the stem cell research that could save her life makes him feel like he "might have to do something rash." Meanwhile, should he have a vasectomy? Or try for another child, having lost his only son? How much longer will he be able to perform such manly feats without Viagra? Is his grateful wife sleeping with the brilliant ophthalmological surgeon who saved their daughter's vision? Physical negotiates the political and medical forks in the labyrinth of our health care system and calls for sanity and enlightenment in the stem cell research wars. It's a no-holds-barred, wrenching, but often hilarious portrait of the looming mortality of a privileged generation that can't believe the party's winding down, if not over.



Physical by James McManus--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt from James McManus' book Physical: An American Checkup. When hard-living, middle-aged American writer James McManus gets a three-day executive checkup at the Mayo Clinic, he is immediately forced to confront his mortality. Will he survive his own cardiovascular system and genetic inheritance long enough to see his young daughters grow up?


Praise for Physical

“This is fascinating material, ripe for exploration, and McManus is a terrific writer--sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued, and lots of fun to read--even when dwelling on grisly topics like colonoscopies and eye-trauma surgery.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An entertaining and often insightful look at one man's experience with the health care system.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Powerful . . . McManus is a serious gambler, and in his new book, Physical, he proves that he is no less serious about God's roll of the dice, particularly when the roll's outcome might involve McManus himself, or his children, or his country. . . . Like Thomas Lynch's The Undertaking, Physical is a lively examination of mortality.” —Los Angeles Times

“McManus is a charming, self-mocking, often hilarious guide, and his story becomes a cautionary tale for those of us who, like McManus, may have lost the way in taking care of ourselves.” —Chicago Tribune

“A freewheeling riff on James McManus's own physical state, and, by circuitous extension, the nation's. McManus writes a boisterous, jokey prose, which makes for high entertainment, even when he's discussing his sigmoid colon.” —Men's Journal

“McManus does amazing high-energy riffs on themes like our belief in our own immortality, and assesses the manner and personalities of his doctors as keenly as they examine him.” —Publishers Weekly

“Most health books are written by . . . healthy people. McManus is the slacker Everyman. . . . With wit and honesty he stares himself in the mirror and cries, 'Uncle!'” —The News & Observer

“Soul-searching and personal history . . . delivered with a combination of emotion and self-deprecating humor.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[McManus] spins an account of a doctor's appointment into a lively volume that combines memoir, meditations on fatherhood, and polemics on stem-cell research. What pulls these strands together is the author's frank and zippy voice, a high-low hybrid that's at home with both Dante and Jay-Z.” —Time Out New York

Physical is a romp through the American health care system that manages to be almost as sexy as Positively Fifth Street, and even more eclectic.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune

About the author

James McManus

James McManus, the author of Positively Fifth Street (FSG, 2003) and four novels, including Going to the Sun, is the poker columnist for The New York Times. In 2001 he received the Peter Lisagor Award for sports journalism. A portion of Physical that appeared in Esquire has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, Best American Magazine Writing, and Best American Political Writing. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

James McManus

Copyright Aynsley Floyd

James McManus

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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