Much like Dr. Nolen in The Making of a Surgeon, Dr. Moynihan describes his plastic surgery residency -- a procession of congenital revisions, cosmetic reconstructions, and trauma repairs. Like other house-staff books, this has plenty of insider details, from relatively minor procedures and mishaps (a patient drinks his liquid soap) to major overhauls -- a transsexual's vaginal construction. And Dr. Moynihan also touches on the more chronic kinds of hospital malaise, especially departmental vivalries and oneupmanship. But overall, paced only by Dr. Moynihan's too-neutral consciousness, this book lacks an edge. Part of the problem is the prose, often lazily conversational (""I hoped to God . . ."") or overdone and amateurish (""A ruddy-faced man, he had dark brown and snapping eyes, and he vibrated with an air of leashed vitality""). Also, it's hard to be inspired by a tummy tuck. And Dr. Moynihan's stance is not altogether admirable: he tends to play down risks and pump up success rates, rarely comments on professional lapses, and includes some rather tasteless remarks (he refers to one surgeon as ""a complete spastic in the operating room""). More instructive than involving, then, but a fair representation of the field.