For twenty-two years, Katherine Bouton had a secret that grew harder to keep every day. An editor at "The New York Times," at daily editorial meetings she couldn't hear what her colleagues were saying. She had gone profoundly deaf in her left ear; her right was getting worse.Read more...
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For twenty-two years, Katherine Bouton had a secret that grew harder to keep every day. An editor at "The New York Times," at daily editorial meetings she couldn't hear what her colleagues were saying. She had gone profoundly deaf in her left ear; her right was getting worse. As she once put it, she was "the kind of person who might have used an ear trumpet in the nineteenth century."
Audiologists agree that we're experiencing a national epidemic of hearing impairment. At present, 50 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss--17 percent of the population. And hearing loss is not exclusively a product of growing old. The usual onset is between the ages of nineteen and forty-four, and in many cases the cause is unknown.
"Shouting Won"'"t Help "is a deftly written, deeply felt look at a widespread and misunderstood phenomenon. In the style of Jerome Groopman and Atul Gawande, and using her experience as a guide, Bouton examines the problem personally, psychologically, and physiologically. She speaks with doctors, audiologists, and neurobiologists, and with a variety of people afflicted with midlife hearing loss, braiding their stories with her own to illuminate the startling effects of the condition.
The result is a surprisingly engaging account of what it's like to live with an invisible disability--and a robust prescription for our nation's increasing problem with deafness.
A "Kirkus Reviews "Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-10-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Though she’s never been able to pinpoint the cause of her affliction, former New York Times senior editor Bouton remembers the day she began to lose her hearing and suddenly found herself among the ranks of the estimated 275 million people around the world with some type of hearing impairment. She recounts her story and expands it to include the experiences of others (each chapter closes with a profile of a person with a hearing disability, including a British opera singer, a psychoanalyst, and a professor), crafting a study rich in detail and broad in scope that touches on the intricacies of cochlear implants and the increasing amount of ambient noise in our society, as well as the shame, frustration, and guilt the hearing impaired face in the workplace and in private conversation. This 360 degree approach to the topic makes this more than just a memoir; it’s a unique method of storytelling that educates, engages, and occasionally enrages the reader, who will come away with a new understanding of the widespread and often puzzling topic of hearing loss and how it can be overcome, or at least managed. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency Inc. (Feb. 19)
Say it again, that's my bad ear
When Sergeant Vince Carter bellowed, “I can’t hear you!” to Private Gomer Pyle in the ’60s TV show “Gomer Pyle,” he wasn’t admitting that he was hard of hearing but making fun of Gomer’s hard-headedness. Today, however, “forty-eight million Americans, or 17 percent of the population, have some degree of hearing loss,” writes Katherine Bouton. “Nearly one in five people, across all age groups, has trouble understanding speech, and many cannot hear certain sounds at all.”
When she was 30, Bouton, former senior editor at the New York Times, joined this group of Americans when she suddenly lost her hearing in one ear. In Shouting Won’t Help, her deeply poignant book that is part memoir and part scientific study, she compellingly chronicles her own struggles with admitting and accepting the severity of her hearing loss. When she first experienced the roar of silence in her left ear, she ignored it; 10 years later, her hearing loss was serious enough to affect her daily life, and by the time she turned 60 she was functionally deaf.
Although Bouton searched for a clue to her sensorineural hearing loss, caused by a defect in the hair cells, doctors could not isolate a cause for the defect, and she slowly and reluctantly started to adjust to her hearing loss. Using her own experience as a starting point, Bouton explores the mechanics of hearing and the numerous ways it can be impaired; the causes of hearing loss, such as noise in restaurants, concerts, subways, airports; and the various conditions (heart disease, dementia, depression) associated with hearing loss. Bouton eventually had a cochlear implant placed in her left ear and now uses a hearing aid in the other ear, and she explores the advantages and the limitations of each technology. Each chapter also features short profiles of individuals, ranging from musicians and composers to nurses and medical publishers, who share their own experiences with a variety of levels of hearing loss and their attempts to come to terms with such loss.
Carefully researched and elegantly written, Bouton’s page-turning book issues a loud and clear call to find solutions to this disability that affects more people every day.