June 2023


By Greg Marshall
Review by
Bitingly funny and full of blistering commentary and fierce familial love, Greg Marshall's memoir is a winning debut.
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When Greg Marshall and his childhood friend, Gretchen, ran for president and vice president of their high school class, they were something of an unconventional pair. Both were non-Mormons, making them a minority in Salt Lake City, Utah. Marshall had a pronounced limp and had yet to tell anyone he was gay, while Gretchen had a pacemaker “and a bone spur hanging off one foot like a sixth toe.” Marshall writes that their winning campaign strategy “was simple, and that was to make fun of ourselves.” Marshall takes that same winning approach in his stunning debut, Leg: The Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew From It

Marshall’s limp in his right leg caused weakness and spasms throughout his life and required surgeries from time to time. He had actually been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months—but his parents never disclosed this fact, telling him instead that he had “tight tendons” and encouraging their son and other four children to simply rely on the mantra, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.” Marshall didn’t discover the true origin of his mobility limitations until 2014, by accident, when applying for health insurance. “Every day growing up was like an ABC Afterschool Special in which no lessons were learned, no wisdom gleaned,” he writes.

In different hands, this memoir might have become a tragic family story, overshadowed by a mother who was diagnosed with cancer and required decades of treatment for that and other conditions, and a kindhearted, dad-joking father who died from Lou Gehrig’s disease when Marshall was 22. Instead, Marshall has written a riotously funny book that will grab your attention and steal your heart from the very first page. His writing brings to mind early David Sedaris, with its bitingly funny caricatures and descriptions, bathed in blistering commentary, deep-seated opinions, wit, intellect and, above all else, fierce family love. Additionally, Marshall details several of his sexual experiences—not to be salacious but to illuminate his ongoing quest for identity and relationships, despite his long-standing fear of contracting HIV. “As a gay man and a person with a disability, I come out every day,” he writes.

The Marshalls’ lives are full of twists, turns and surprises that will leave readers yearning for more, and this memoir serves as a love letter to all of them, especially Marshall’s late father. Rare is the book that makes me both laugh out loud and shed actual tears, but Leg made me do both.

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By Greg Marshall
ISBN 9781419763601

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