Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words

by Marty Jezer

Basic Books/HarperCollins $23 USA $32.50 CDN


Wonderfully written, with courage, warmth, and wit. . . . This is a powerful story of growing up, shedding illusions, and coping with life. I think that everyone who stutters and every speech-language pathologist who works with stutterers should read it. In fact, so should anyone interested in the human condition." BARRY GUITAR, PH.D, CCC-SLP, Professor, University of Vermont, Co-author, Stuttering: An Integrated Approach to Its Nature and Treatment


"As a stutterer who is always afraid of speaking but is rarely able to keep his mouth shut, I have a story to tell." So writes Marty Jezer in this insightful and invaluable book about stuttering that, by necessity, is also a work about speaking, silence, and the pleasures and pitfalls of everyday communication.

With eloquence and passion, Jezer delves into his lifelong struggle with fluent speech. "I live on both sides of the disability dilemma," he says. "As long as I keep silent, I look like a normal fluent person. But every time I talk, I put this identity on the line. The need to speak and the probability of stuttering are the dominant facts of my life."

This is a book about persistence and pluck, denial and fear. With humorous and poignant personal anecdotes, Jezer recalls being a student, too embarrassed to speak in class yet humiliated by his own chosen silence. Afraid to phone girls, he found ingenious ways to ask them out on dates. Apprehensive of raising children, he delighted in reading to his daughter. Told at a job interview that he was unemployable, he created his own career.

In an endless effort to "cure" his stuttering, Jezer has tried many kinds of speech therapy and psychotherapy, and even volunteered as a guinea pig to test an experimental drug. Supportive, though critical, of existing therapies, he's insistent that issues of identity, self-acceptance, and self-esteem are as vital as fluency techniques. Through the examples of new-found friends in the self-help movement for people who stutter, he learned to take responsibility for his speech. Although Jezer still stutters, he's no longer afraid to speak.

However unique stuttering is as a disability, the daily embarrassments and deeper psychic indignities that stutterers face, if not universal, are commonplace. The defeats of giving in to them and the triumphs of overcoming them are, as Jezer writes, the drama of life.

Aristotle described the stutterer's tongue as "too sluggish to keep pace with the imagination." Quite the contrary; Marty Jezer may stutter, but he is seldom at a loss for words.

MARTY JEZER has published biographies of Rachel Carson and Abbie Hoffman and The Dark Ages: Life in the USA 1945-1960. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.


"Marty Jezer had me totally captivated from page one. He's an absolutely engaging story teller, and he looks at chronic stuttering from so many different perspectives that you cannot help but come away with an intuitive understanding of the many ways the individual is affected." JOHN C. HARRISON, Program Director, National Stuttering Project

"Marty Jezer's Stuttering lives and breathes on the general level of self- awareness and self-discovery. It provides insights for all of us, and much laughter." GRACE PALEY, author

"Totally absorbing. Jezer has accomplished an admirable interweaving of his experiences and introspections as a stutterer with a great deal of accurate information about stuttering and its treatment. This book should be of very considerable value to stutterers and their parents. . . . (it) offers a compelling glimpse of the inner life of a stutterer." OLIVER BLOODSTEIN, Speech and Hearing Center, Brooklyn College. Author, A Handbook on Stuttering

"An important contribution. More informative about stuttering than any other personal account. The insights are quite profound." C. WOODRUFF STARKWEATHER, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Co-Director, Birch Tree Foundation and co-author of Stuttering

"Fascinating. . . . Jezer combines his considerable literary skills with his history as someone who has lived with an intensely personal, severe, and chronic stuttering problem. . . . This is more than a book about stuttering. It is also a book about empathy, understanding, advocacy, and change." STEPHEN B. HOOD, PH.D., director, Speech and Hearing Center, University of South Alabama

This book is a powerful antidote to that view. A vivid picture of the world of stuttering as seen from the inside looking out." WILLIAM H. PERKINS, former director, Stuttering Center, University of Southern California, and author of Stuttering and Science

Marty Jezer presents insights pertaining to the nature and treatment of stuttering that will be helpful to speech-language pathologists, students, persons who stutter, and the families and partners of persons who stutter. I highly recommend it. PETER R. RAMIG, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences, University of Colorado "This graceful, eloquent book speaks in perfect pitch. Jezer's account of reading the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah had me laughing aloud. His adventures with therapeutic miracle cures are reported with hard-earned philosophic wisdom. A flat-out winner." SUSAN BROWNMILLER, author

"A useful, interesting, touching book. As a stutterer, I found plenty of points of connection in it, and others will too. EDWARD HOAGLAND, essayist, novelist, teacher.

--Kirkus Reviews

Webweaver Judy Kuster
Copyright 1996, 1997
Last modififed May 26, 1997