CONFESSIONS OF A KNIFE by Richard Seizer

CONFESSIONS OF A KNIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Our man at Yale-New Haven Hospital (Mortal Lessons), with art-ful pieces on themes sacred and profane. We meet death, often bloody death, in the O.R., on a Civil War hospital ship, in a kosher abbatoir going after a fresh cow aorta. We share visions of Diana priestesses when a team of woman surgeons performs a mastectomy. And we read, in a calumny against pathologists, about ""their reprehensible penchant for comparing the manifestation of disease with items of food. . . 'cheesy pus,' 'coffee-ground vomitus,' 'nutmeg liver.' "" In each case, Seizer inserts his sensibility of the surgeon--part priest, part humble servant before forces unknown and unknowable. Some lighter pieces come off well--a version of Verdi's La Traviata seen as the redemption of Dr. Grenvil in Violetta's death throes, a tribute to aging, and, in an ""appendix,"" a neat exposition on that intestinal appendage that begins by alluding to a common parental humilation--the attempt to inflate a sausage balloon that comes short by a limp, finger-length, appendix-like extrusion. Also: further reminiscences of growing up in Troy, N.Y., bittersweet and death-laden--the accidental drowning, the death of a bully from tuberculosis. There is more command and restraint evident than in earlier collections, but too many exclamation points still, too many vocative Oh's and Ah's, too many burbles with Biblical cadences (""Does not the swelling of a lusty nostril reveal the stallion's passionate intent?""). As always, however, the content is special, inventive, unexpected--and always resonating on matters of life and death.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster