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 A first collection of eight stories, written by a practicing physician, that chronicles the lives, loves, and tribulations of a variety of doctors and their mates. At its best, it's hard-nosed but empathetic, replete with workaday detail that seems lived in. ``Dreams of a Doctor's Wife'' is a brief, haunting sketch about a woman who, after a friend's abortion, ``developed a horror of pregnancy.'' Later, an obstetrician's wife and pregnant, she lives through the dreams of pregnancy and, with birth, Massad finds an appropriately ambiguous ending. ``Healers'' tells of an abortionist who deals with demonstrators and struggles with his mixed motives until admitting that ``The truth is that I do abortions because I love women.'' In ``Survivors,'' Massad relates the story of two interns, one a hotshot and thoughtful, the other (who ``carried the sounds of Long Island money'') mostly inept; they both loved the same woman; the novella-length piece manages to avoid the obvious soap-opera traps for the most part. In ``Fatigue,'' the wife of an obstetrician-in-training has to deal with her husband's constant exhaustion and uncertainty (``All night the nurses asked me questions I couldn't answer'') for days and weeks and months; it's a harrowing, carefully developed story that doesn't allow its medical setting to reduce the husband-and-wife struggle to an afterthought. The other tales are sharply paced, well-polished renditions of the frenetic roller-coaster ride that for many of Massad's people seems to be regular routine. An impressive debut collection that takes readers into hospital wards, as well as doctor's bedrooms, without trivializing or sensationalizing its material.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1993
ISBN: 0-446-51683-X
Page count: 336pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993