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DEPARTURE FROM THE DARKNESS AND THE COLD

THE HOPE OF RENEWAL FOR THE SOUL OF MEDICINE IN PATIENT CARE

A luminous meditation on a healer’s experience that’s anguished and exuberant, by turns.

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A doctor weighs the rigors, discontents, and joys of practicing medicine in this collection of essays and poetry.

In these pieces, Hergott, a cardiologist and emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, delves into the physically and emotionally grueling realities of a medical career as well as the humane idealism at its core. Several essays decry the subjection of doctors to the dictates of markets and corporate health care providers’ demands; the result, he contends, is burned-out physicians with little time to care for their patients’ emotional needs or to maintain family lives of their own. Hergott re-creates the ordeal and trauma of medical training—his nerves were so bad on one day of his residency, he writes, that he had to leave the hospital—and the hard-won confidence in his abilities that grew over time. He also tells stories of appropriate medical treatment choices that resulted in patients’ deaths—every doctor has some—and discusses the painful process of learning and moving on from them. Other, contrasting stories tell of health care professionals forging connections with patients despite obstacles. Hergott recalls a ward full of nonresponsive hydrocephalic infants, many abandoned by their parents, who received tender care from the ward nurses; World War II veterans who opened up to him about things they’d never discussed with anyone; and a doctor in an elevator who lifted the spirits of a fragile patient just by making small talk with her. In several essays, he recounts the death of his adult son, Zachary, in a 2009 plane crash and the rudderless grief that he weathered in its wake—and the colleagues, patients, and strangers who helped him through it with simple gestures of caring.

Hergott writes in a limpid style that’s vivid and often haunting: “They were young men, their bodies pale, translucent, and incomplete,” he writes of convalescents at a military hospital. “Each had part of an arm or a leg missing or had some other wound inconsistent with the perfection of the rest of the body.” His prose moves between clinical precision (“I felt the clamp placed in my hand and as I began to move it toward the cords a thought flashed in my mind…I could completely occlude his airway—which would be catastrophic,” he frets while treating a choking toddler) and more lyrical observations that skillfully evoke mood and feeling (the toddler’s mother had “her son enfolded in her arms, her head bent with her face close to his, she speaking softly to him in a way no one else could”). Even more than his prose, Hergott’s poetry offers dense imagery that conveys psychological wounds beneath physical ones, as in a piece about a brain surgery patient: “When the staples come out, / and the bone beneath has healed, / and your flowing hair— / artfully parted during— / covers the scar after, / there will be nothing seen / of what proceeded.” The overall result is a rich and absorbing portrait of a doctor’s life.

A luminous meditation on a healer’s experience that’s anguished and exuberant, by turns.

Pub Date: March 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62734-302-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Universal Publishers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

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The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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