Lyrical riffs on illness, frailty and the meaning of life, as seen through a physician’s eyes.
A poet, musician and teacher who also practices medicine, Watts (Bedside Manners: One Doctor’s Reflections on the Oddly Intimate Encounters Between Patient and Healer, 2005, etc.) belongs to the growing ranks of doctor-essayists. Readers should not expect lucid journalistic analyses à la Jerome Groopman or Atul Gawande, however; Watts’s approach is intensely literary. In one of the essays, the author discusses a patient whose cancer was so advanced by the time of its diagnosis that he was too ill to be treated, despite his intense desire for treatment; finally, the author administered a placebo. Another patient suffered a painful chronic illness, but was also needy and wildly psychotic. Watts recorded their exchanges, as well as the interminable, incoherent messages she left on his answering machine. Employing stream-of-consciousness imagery to depict how a teaching hospital’s routine turned a woman’s delivery into a miserable experience, the author intersperses a few of his poems. At times, Watts turns up insightful observations on his profession. Though there was no subpoena appended to a letter requesting information on a patient who died two years earlier, Watts worried, “Doctors motor along with a little fear of litigation in the sidecar.” He observed the patient’s chart and mused that it represented all that remained of a human being. When a confused patient heard from the author that she didn’t require surgery, but a second opinion from a specialist seemed to urge it, Watts explained that she had actually received similar advice filtered through the personalities of two different physicians.
Often illuminating, though the more elaborate passages may strike some as showing off.
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").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)