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.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").