SUTURES by Christopher Sanford


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A brief, amiable first novel about a medical intern's life that's as entertaining as--and no more elucidating than--a late-night conversation in an after-hours bar. Terry, one of four new interns at La Donna Hospital in California's Bay Area, an LA. native and self-professed believer in the relevancy of rock lyrics, wastes no time in making his first major career mistake: He initiates an affair with dedicated fellow intern Winnie, whose overbearing mother will soon intervene to destroy the liaison. The ecstasy of new love and, later, the inevitable post-break-up jealousy and resentment only add more pain to Terry's already unbearable existence as an intern deprived of sleep, food, and comfort as too many horrible deaths are witnessed, and perhaps even caused, at close quarters. While struggling in 36-hour stretches to diagnose street psychotics, negotiate with patients over narcotics prescriptions, discuss birth control and AIDS with teenaged mothers, and argue with Winnie over whether to perform painful diagnostic tests on a geriatric patient who just wants to die, Terry gradually begins to internalize the basic lessons of modern medicine. These include how to avoid lawsuits by over-testing, over-hospitalizing, and over-documenting patients; how to take advantage of the letters ""M.D."" in potentially romantic situations; what to do when one spots an accident victim on the highway, and how to maintain relative sanity until the three-year medical-hazing period ends. Certainly, the interning process has been evoked elsewhere with more insight and passion, but Sanford does add a rather charming California spin--expressing yet making light of 'Ferry's ordeal via the lyrics of punk rock songs, jokes about English ladies' underwear, and la-la dialogue between stressed-out lovers (""You're my main feature. More than just a little good""). Weightless entertainment--though possibly a welcome distraction for this year's initiates in the call room.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1993
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: "Soho--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"