BELLEVUE by Marc Siegel


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A hyperkinetic debut about an intern’s induction into the byzantine manners of Manhattan’s Bellevue hospital. David Levy, M.D., naively starts his internship imagining that he—ll find orderly learning and ample opportunity to ease suffering and save lives. Instead, he finds himself going through the motions with chronically ill patients while being alternately ridiculed and ignored by the resident in charge—“Fat” Goldman, a chain-smoking grouch with a schoolboy crush on wily Delia, a medical student. David’s childhood friend and fellow intern Sal incurs Goldman’s wrath by showily pursuing Delia himself and then flaunting his success. Meanwhile, amidst the requisite drudgery and humbling run-ins with nurses, David worries about Sal, whose performance is increasingly erratic. Making matters worse, no one seems to be supervising Goldman: The attending physician, Dr. Kell, has only one concern—enlisting patients for his top-secret study involving intravenous doses of an unnamed red liquid. After several blow-ups, Sal is suddenly nowhere to be found, then shows up in the emergency room days later, sweaty and delirious. Are Delia’s machinations or Dr. Kell’s protocols somehow to blame? Just as he seems to be getting better, Sal disappears from the hospital, then turns up dead. Worn down by despair, theatrical nightmares, and incoherent (exhaustion-fueled?) suspicions, David gets caught up in his own career-jeopardizing dalliance with Delia. Luckily, though, he gets over her, becomes reconciled to injustice and chaos, and buckles down to learn his trade. Author-internist Siegel’s group portrait of the oddballs and visionaries who inhabit Bellevue’s wards is lively and often engaging. But the rushing about engendered by David’s preoccupation with Sal is tiresome, and if nefarious goings-on did lead to Sal’s death, they aren’t spelled out in the whiny final confrontation between David and Dr. Kell. A messy mix, then, of satire, sleep deprivation, and suspense, without payoff.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-83602-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998