In this debut memoir, a gynecologist contemplates the patients that defined his career.
After a brief introduction, Siegel launches into a description of several of his most difficult cases: caring for a pregnant patient with pneumonia, treating ectopic pregnancies, and breaking a baby’s clavicle to save its life. Later, Siegel recounts his own history, from medical school to serving rotations in psychiatry and gynecology to starting his own practice in New Jersey. Numerous patients come and go as they are treated, but they all affect the author. Siegel balances a conversational tone with detailed clinical descriptions, which shows how skill and compassion work in tandem when practicing medicine, despite the complexity of each patient’s case. Although there are miraculous moments, complications claim some of Siegel’s patients, and he and his medical team have to cope with the responsibility, the hard choices they had to make, and the patient’s bereaved family. Following an abortion, a patient told the doctor that “a baby’s hand had just come out of her vagina….She handed me a not so bloody tissue paper. It was folded in half and easy to open. There it was, the hand of a fetus.” Siegel ably conveys the pressure of medical care. At times, however, the writing grows confusing, especially when tenses repeatedly switch. Siegel considers some of the social context surrounding his work through the years he’s been a gynecologist (e.g., he was on call, waiting to be summoned to answer some stranger’s need, during the famous New York City blackout of 1977). While those pauses provide welcome relief from the high stakes of his work, they tend toward a nostalgia that doesn’t add much to the book: “How simple and sensible it must have been in the olden golden days, when everyone trusted the doctor to do his best.” There is little for the reader to do with those kinds of ruminations and they don’t build toward a single theme or message. Siegel’s writing is at its best when it’s close to his surgery.
Emotionally affecting and earnest, although the philosophical moments falter.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)