Wright (Hope I Don’t See You for a Long Time, 2009) offers a new collection of stories that offer snapshots from his days as a pharmacist.
In this continuation of his first book, the author, a pharmacist and professional speaker, draws on further memories and observations from a 33-year career in a compilation of introspective tales. Most are brief, spanning two to four pages, and they cover a broad range of topics; many focus on a single encounter or a series of meetings with a particular patient. These patient-centered anecdotes provide the most compelling reading, as Wright’s specific details yield rich, fleshed-out characters, such as an anxious, new mother in “Twitch” or a passionate staff pharmacist at the state mental institution in “A ‘Busy’ Farm.” Other stories center on happenings from Wright’s time in pharmacy school, or on more general musings, and these lack the spark of the charming character portraits. They’re still amusing, by and large, but many come across as vague filler, such as one that offers Wright’s thoughts on pharmacy smocks. When he focuses on the people he’s met over the years, though, the tone is more contemplative, reflecting on the specific impact that they had on his views about life. The best example of this is in “The Boxer,” in which he thinks about how the gentle, fluid movements of the titular patient affected him. For the most part, the stories have a solid rhythmic flow, but occasionally, the prose gets bogged down in repetition or excessive explanation, as in the story “Nair,” in which the author defines three separate times what a “predicament” is—in only two pages.
Insightful and often entertaining slice-of-life stories from a lengthy career.