A clean, sure collection of essays and tales, the strongest yet, by the author of Mortal Lessons and Confessions of a Knife--addressed, fittingly, to the young in Selzer's chosen field. This is not, of course, just the New Haven surgeon's advice on how not to faint during an operation or why it's vital to spend hours in the anatomy lab; it's about the human calling of doctoring--and the lifelong learning that goes on among patients, hospitals, and staff. In recalling his younger days, Seizer brings off a virtuoso balance of self-admonishment and insight. ""Brute"" is a delicious tale of self-criticism; ""A Pint of Blood,"" a little gem of medical school personas. There are reminders that Seizer is a generalist in a world of dreary specialists. ""Toenails"" finds him, during his Wednesday afternoons (off) at the library, cutting the toenails of the elderly, incapacitated habituÃ‰es. Some readers, one suspects, would gladly dispense with the urinal story--while ""The Virgin and the Petrie Dish"" will not exactly comfort women who would like to have babies naturally, but can't. ""Imelda,"" on the other hand, is a glorious evocation of tropical tragedy and pride; and ""Chatterbox,"" ""Grand Rounds,"" and ""On Hospitals"" are so deftly drawn that an occasional indulgence is forgivable. An ambitious fable, ""The Impostor,"" and an essay on autopsy conclude the volume, illustrating both Selzer's Slavic soul and his Troy, N.Y., gutsiness--a neat combination indeed.