Prescription: Read. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

IN THE SPACE BETWEEN MOMENTS

FINDING JOY AND MEANING IN MEDICINE

A trainee doctor combats burnout with heartening stories of how medical professionals make a difference in patients’ lives.

Debut author Sinha wrote these seven concise, well-crafted pieces while he was in internal medicine residency training at Yale New Haven Hospital. As a new intern, he had “the energy of a lively puppy,” but long hours spent with the ill and dying soon took a toll. Burnout was all around him; he even wrote an exposé on physician suicide rates for the New York Times. Worried that happiness couldn’t coexist with medicine, he was determined to search for joy in the context of life-threatening illnesses. In “Urine Trouble,” the funniest anecdote, a man called Harry, who was summoned to court for public urination, faked a seizure to go free. Cleared of neurological problems but suffering from cognitive impairment, he remained on the ward as a “social admit.” Harry refused to shower until Sinha agreed to accompany him to the rooftop healing garden—where he promptly urinated into a stream. “Nails and Screw-ups” has a similarly tidy, full-circle structure, opening and closing with scenes of the author cutting the toenails of Michael, a morbidly obese patient at the VA clinic. In between, Sinha regretted that his poor medication decision landed the man with hefty hospital bills. The author is always cognizant of how comedy and tragedy alternate, or even overlap, in emergency situations. Other tales see him saving Christmas for Carol, who accidentally mixed whiskey and Valium; watching an intern say the Lord’s Prayer with Raymond, dying of an abdominal infection; and helping a family make the decision to take cancer patient Ted off life support. These punchy essays (five of which have been previously published on websites) glisten with just-right details, dialogue, and characterization. Sinha also pays tribute to Yogesh, a chief resident who showed “empathy, vulnerability, and grace” while dying of brain cancer. A closing letter to his future self returns to the Introduction’s themes by warning against “the ever-present threat of crippling cynicism.” The only problem with the book? It’s too short—let’s hope a few more years in practice will give the author sufficient material for a full-length work.

Prescription: Read. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 69

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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