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A few good books & book review of Direct Red coming down the pipe

August 4, 2009

One of the perks of being an active blogger is that sometimes companies send you things to review and requests to guest-write; little old me in frosty Canada never really thought I’d be in that boat, but my e-mail has been busy of late. The first review I’ll tackle is that of a book called Direct Red: A surgeons view of her life or death profession. STAY TUNED – I’ve got to read it first!!

I’m a little slower a recreational reader than I used to be, probably because my nose is buried in non-fiction textbooks a lot of the time, which means reading (on the whole) sometimes seems like it holds little pleasure. Medical fiction and non-fiction written in a story-telling style does captivate me, so in the past few years, I’ve gobbled up books like House of God (Samuel Shem), Stiff (Mary Roach), Phantoms in the Brain (V.S. Ramachandran), The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks), Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures (Vincent Lam), Girlfriend in a Coma (Douglas Coupland), and Choke (Chuck Palaniak).

The most atypical so far was Violent Cases (Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Dave McKean, of MirorMask fame). It’s a graphic novel exploring a little boy’s interest in Al Capone’s old osteopath, and a cherished gift from a friend working for Dark Horse Comics. Though many of these are on the periphery of medical fiction, I don’t care! I like them!

In Direct Red, I am looking forward to this rare female account of the world of surgery and what parallels it may have with my own training. Here’s a taste from HarperCollins on Direct Red:

Surgeons have long been known for their allergy to doubt, an unsurprising trait in professionals who must play God, routinely risking someone else’s life in order to do their job. But in this poignant account of her surgical training, Gabriel Weston, a member of Britain’s Royal College of Surgeons, reveals the humanity beneath the veneer of invincibility. Interweaving her own story with those of her patients, Weston evokes both the humor and the heartbreak that come of medicine’s daily confrontation with the ultimate unknowability of the human body. With prose that never flinches from the raw, graphic realities of a surgeon’s day, Weston confronts life, death, and the unique difficulties of being a female surgeon in a heavily male-dominated profession.

So, keep your dials locked to Dr.Ottematic and I’ll let you know how Direct Red measures up. In the meantime, what other medical fiction (or non-fiction storytelling) have you read and loved?

(Please pardon all the linking to Amazon. They don’t pay me. I just find their site the easiest to use. Support your local bookstore or library too!)


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