In what he describes as ""discontinuous, impressionistic renderings of some scenes from a man's life,"" the author brings...


THERE IS A WORLD ELSEWHERE: Autobiographical Pages

In what he describes as ""discontinuous, impressionistic renderings of some scenes from a man's life,"" the author brings himself into focus through writing about others. Gonzalez-Crussi, a pathologist and head of laboratories at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago (Suspended Animation, 1995, etc.) has a flair for the unusual word (""nimiety,"" ""murine,"" etc.) and the unexpected connection, moving with facility and grace from the personal to the universal. He's both eloquent and humble on the nature of memory, segueing into discussions of Saint Augustine and the difficulties of love. He describes his father, a failed speculator and alcoholic, and his middle-class family, which lost all it had. The central chapters of the book detail his mother's tiny street-comer pharmacy beneath the family's barrio household in Mexico City. Into this tale the author weaves the story of one Ubaldo and his unconsummated infatuation with Marisela, the grocer's daughter; the author says of Ubaldo, attributing the line to a commentator on Duchamp, that he was the great master of the uncompleted work. In emphasizing the one death that has long haunted him, that of a family friend who, searching for Gonzalez-Crussi's father during one of his frequent disappearances, was accidentally shot dead upon entering a tavern, the author hints at a belief in perfection beyond an imperfect world. Of his Mexico City medical training, he mentions the stories of classmate Hector Duran, who became infatuated with a whore. Here Gonzalez-Crussi takes Titian's painting The Two Venuses as a starting point for an extended tale of obsessive sexual love. Says the author, ""The Æ’migrÆ’ and the dead share features in common,"" citing by way of proof a French proverb: 'To leave is to die a little."" For both, he says, ""there is another world, an 'elsewhere.'"" Humane writings of enduring value from a physician/author whose work deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 1998


Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead/Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998