Klitzman's first--a frank and compassionate account of his intern year in an unnamed hospital, told in prose as clean and...

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A YEAR-LONG NIGHT: Tales of a Medical Intern

Klitzman's first--a frank and compassionate account of his intern year in an unnamed hospital, told in prose as clean and precise and gleaming with promise as a surgeon's scalpel. Klitzman emphasizes the human side of the hospital: the suffering and fragile mortality of patients; the frightening, funny, wearying routines of doctors and nurses. There's little external order to his ""tales,"" other than four loose groupings that cover general practice, trauma, neurological disease, and ""Deviations""--a final grab bag of oddities including a description of a one-eyed fetus (""Cyclops""), of sad dealings with a mother who refuses to acknowledge her baby's brain damage (""Baby Girl Cooke""), and of the author's treatment of a boy with AIDS Related Complex. What binds these tales is Ktitzman's fresh and honest voice, at times awestruck or shocked but never jaded, whether confessing his initial revulsion to operations (""A blue whiff of smoke wafted up from the burning tissue and curled into my nostrils. . .The next thing I knew, a nurse was assisting me out of the darkened room. . .""); pride in sewing stitches into a slashed stomach; or terror at electroshocking a heart-attack victim (""The body jerked up tensely. . .I felt stunned, as if the current had passed through my own moist palms and seared my heart""). And then there are deft descriptions of colleagues--a studious radiologist, an unusually kind nurse--and, the book's heart, of patients: a calvacade of ravaged humanity including a leukemia-stricken accountant undergoing painful chemotherapy; a paralyzed woman communicating only by blinking; and a sufferer of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, whose tale sends Klitzman spinning into a humble, concluding account of his pre-intern months spent doctoring amongst New Guinea tribespeople. An extraodinary complement to Perri Klass' more procedure-oriented A Not Entirely Benign Procedure (1987), Klitzman's memoir stands out for its fine writing, unblinking internal probing, external observation, and humaneness.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988