Hung’s thoughtful book deserves an audience wider than just those contemplating a life in medicine, “an impossible and often...



Hung’s (Finding Fat Lady’s Shoe, 2013) second memoir updates the classic American immigrant’s success story: A young man emigrates from Hong Kong to the U.S. and, despite hardships and failures, works his way through college and medical school to become a doctor.

In 1965, Hung arrived F.O.B.—fresh off the boat—in Hawaii with just a few hundred dollars in his pocket. He enrolled in college and worked as many as four jobs, struggling all the while with the English language; a blind date, he thought, meant going out with a blind person. Just an average student, Hung never earned his bachelor’s degree. Attempting to study optometry at Indiana University, he floundered there and, later, in dental school at the University of British Columbia, barely passing some courses, flunking others and enduring “a year of bad days.” Switching to medical school at the University of Hawaii and then the University of Nebraska, however, he earned his degree in medicine—a “uniformly strenuous” experience. A preceptorship in a country hospital in Wahoo, Nebraska, ensued, in which he treated all kinds of conditions, followed by an exhausting internship in Fresno, California, where he helped save some patients, watched helplessly as others died, and made beginner’s mistakes, such as putting an obese woman’s suppository “in the wrong hole.” Hung has written an absorbing and witty book. Dramatic, nuanced vignettes and vivid descriptions of people and places create a rich tapestry that shows the medical profession at its best and worst. He sees the wonder and the mystery of the human body and mind and the frighteningly big part that luck plays in patient outcomes, despite modern medical advances. As someone who’s “proud to be average,” Hung also demonstrates the value of hard work and persistence in reaching one’s goals. Though he overindulges in exclamation points and devotes a few too many pages to his early days in Hawaii, this memoir provides a fascinating insiders’ look at the study and practice of medicine, a view few outside the field will even guess at.

Hung’s thoughtful book deserves an audience wider than just those contemplating a life in medicine, “an impossible and often thankless job.”

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692203583

Page Count: 324

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2014

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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