EMERGENCY ROOM by Dan Sachs

EMERGENCY ROOM

Lives Saved and Lost: Doctors Tell Their Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Thirty-one real-life emergency room dramas--some horrifying, some amusing, some heartrending--told by doctors with a definite flair for storytelling. Editor Sachs, himself an emergency room resident at a Cook County, Ill., hospital, has rounded up an impressive crew of over two dozen writing doctors, among them essayist Richard Selzer; columnist Barry Pollack, who wrote episodes of Trapper John, M.D.; Samuel Shem, pseudonymous author of the very funny novel House of God; and David Felshuh, whose play Ms. Evers Boys was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Consequently, this collection's pieces are more consistently well-written than the mixed bag of Mark Brown's recent Emergency! True Tales from the Nation's ERs (1995). Written mostly as first-person narratives, these well-crafted stories often reveal as much about the physician as about the patient. In Selzer's brief story of stitching up a police-inflicted gash in the forehead of a huge drunken black man, the real subject is Selzer's anger--at the man (whose ears he sews to the stretcher to make him lie still), at the police, and finally at himself. One piece called ``Student Doctor'' shows a painfully nervous medical student facing her first patient, an encounter that, happily, both survive. Perhaps the most nightmarish story is one called ``Stump,'' in which the patient is a man who, while trying to commit suicide, succeeded only in blowing his face off. We are never told whether he lived or died, but we know what outcome the emergency room physician hoped for. With the continuing popularity of TV dramas featuring emergency room action, this strong collection of true and memorable tales from the front lines of medicine should find its niche.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-316-76592-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996




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