NOTES OF AN ANATOMIST by Frank Gonzalez-Crussi


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Gonzalez-Crussi is a pathologist, born and educated in Mexico, who now practices at Children's Hospital in Chicago. As behooves one who has performed countless autopsies his essays are reflections on the body, mostly seen in death; and like other literary physicians, he is steeped in the lore and literature of the past. He leads off with an arresting piece on enbalming, making some acid remarks on today's cosmetic practices as well as some demystifying comments on ancient Egyptian ritual. (There was a lot of plain old ""salting out,"" it appears.) The remaining essays turn on such subjects as cultural attitudes toward twins; unquiet ghosts; the cultural associations of various body organs (e.g., the nose); and the author's own fascination with pathology. There are also some disquieting pieces--on decay, child abuse, the study of ""monsters""--as well as a perceptive look at the external body in light of El Greco's mannerism. A final essay on male genitalia combines bemusement with sagacity, and again raises the question of the so-called virtues of circumcision. Hardly a choice of subjects to everyone's taste--but presented with an elegance reflecting an unusual mind, a baroque (in the best sense) style, and well-chosen, often Spanish references. In sum: an unusual debut.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1985
ISBN: 1607141124
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich