Engaging, sometimes-poignant, and occasionally acerbic stories from a longtime physician.

THE DOCTOR'S BLACK BAG

51 YEARS AS A GENERAL PHYSICIAN IN THE RURAL WEST

A collection of debut short essays recalling the author’s experiences during five decades as a general practitioner in the American Southwest.

After completing medical school at the University of Texas’ Medical Branch at Galveston in 1956 and an internship in Columbus, Ohio, Schmidt began his career in 1957 in Keams Canyon, Arizona, working for the United States Public Health Service on the Hopi Reservation, which is surrounded by the Navajo Reservation. Some of his most compelling anecdotes come from this period, as they offer a window on midcentury Hopi and Navajo lifestyles and cultures. By 1959, he was ready to try private practice, and so he, his wife, and their two young sons moved to Slaton, Texas, where he joined the practice of an older doctor. Schmidt writes that he “failed to thrive in Slaton” for a variety of reasons, including inexperience, and he felt that it was time to move on. In 1961, he joined the practice of a physician in Jal, New Mexico, and when the other practitioner unexpectedly departed for a surgery residency, he became its solo practitioner. After 11 years of being on call at all hours of the day and night, an emotionally and physically drained Schmidt moved his family once again, this time opening a practice in Yuma, Arizona, where he would remain for more than 23 years. This memoir, which has a fluid timeline that moves back and forth over more than four decades, is loaded with vignettes about Schmidt’s experiences with individual patients. As a result, it effectively illustrates the day-to-day life of a general practitioner before the days of medical conglomerates. He opens, for instance, with an amusing tale about Christmas Eve 1962, in Jal, when he was repeatedly called to the emergency room to treat patients’ injuries after they tried out skateboards they gave their kids. He also occasionally vents about Medicare regulations regarding such things as doorway widths and about “new societal norms” that discourage diagnostic physical contact, but he also counsels that doctors must always listen to what their patients are saying—and, yes, he has a story for that.

Engaging, sometimes-poignant, and occasionally acerbic stories from a longtime physician.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-09-831026-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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