SUSPENDED ANIMATION: Six Essays on the Preservation of Bodily Parts by F. Gonzalez-Crussi

SUSPENDED ANIMATION: Six Essays on the Preservation of Bodily Parts

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More graceful, erudite, and mind-expanding essays from Gonzalez-Crussi (Pathology/ Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Univ.; The Day of the Dead, 1993, etc.), this time accompanied by haunting, beautiful color photographs of skeletons, skulls, medical specimens, and anatomical models. In writing that smoothly integrates medical science, history, philosophy, literature, and the arts, Gonzalez-Crussi ponders the human condition. Through visits to a morphological science museum in Madrid, with its vast collection of human skulls, models of anatomical and pathological specimens, and artistic representations of flayed bodies, to the University of Bologna's amphitheater, where public dissections were performed in the 16th century, the author shows us extraordinary sights and reveals how much medical thinking has changed. He compares superb old wax anatomical models, in which art and science cooperated to produce near-perfect images of the human body, with today's abstract imaging produced by thermography and MRI and PET scans. And in the essay ""How We Came To Be,"" Gonzalez-Crussi traces changing ideas about conception and birth from the Greeks, who viewed semen as the quintessential liquid, even the stuff of which stars were made, to the present time, when it is but a commodity to be manipulated by reproductive technologies. In another essay the author recollects a nun in a hospital pathology lab baptizing bottles containing the products of conception, a memory that leads to reflections on life and death. The final piece, ""Nature's Lapses,"" on congenital malformations, ranges from theological arguments over the existence of evil in a world shaped by a divine providence to folklore about maternal influences on fetuses to questions over the proper role of genetic counselors. The opening of a Gonzalez-Crussi essay gives few hints as to where it may wander, but the journey is always rewarding.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 160714123X
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harvest/Harcourt Brace