Humorous, poignant, provocative, and educational, the author’s opinions and anecdotes offer fresh takes on the ever changing...




An assortment of clinical musings from the forefront of patient-centered medicine.

Physician and medical educator Launer (Sex Versus Survival: The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein, 2015) collects material from his columns that have appeared in two medical journals. Focused on the science of medicine and the delivery of patient care, the essays also share intimately personal insights about the author’s life as a husband and father and his lifelong passions. Launer draws largely on the stories of his patients and how their suffering and discomfort requires that a compassionate physician act “as a whole person.” The author directly addresses industry indifference and the lost art of listening and how exhibiting true interest in a patient’s pain can make a difference. In several pieces, Launer confesses to experiencing this lack of empathy himself as a patient—e.g., the time he, during a routine cardiac stress test, endured “a needless act of emotional abuse where kindness would have required little effort.” The author’s infuriating lifelong battle with eczema reveals a doctor at his most human and also offers some sound thought processes for readers coping with chronic conditions. Other pieces briefly discuss choices in health care, sexuality, and the dilemma of “career patients,” and Launer also includes a time-demarcated essay on the contents of his workday, revealing the frantic, contract-centered corporate side of medicine. Most pieces are brief—some just a few pages in length—but each represents a facet of the medical world that the author has either learned from or experienced firsthand. As a professional open to change and perspective, Launer is able to channel these lessons back into his practice, hoping the result will prove compassionate and proactive for his patients and his practice.

Humorous, poignant, provocative, and educational, the author’s opinions and anecdotes offer fresh takes on the ever changing field of medicine and how small changes in patient care have the potential to inspire radical improvements in the industry at large.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1631-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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