A persuasive, sympathetic, scattered insider’s report on a broken system.



A memoir from an emergency department doctor on Chicago's South Side.

Fisher, who graduated from medical school in 2001, started working as an attending physician in the University of Chicago Medical Center in 2006. Beginning his first book with a dramatic account of how the emergency room faced its first Covid-19 cases in February 2020, he moves back and forth through time, alternating between tightly focused sections on the cases he sees on a given day and letters ostensibly directed toward some of those patients and others. The author’s discussions of the initial impact of Covid-19, which “smashed through the South Side's multi-generational homes” and where standing near unmasked patients left him feeling “like being in the same room with someone holding a gun,” are the most compelling. But the book, clearly started before the pandemic, is not so much about the effects of the pandemic—when the emergency department was less busy than usual (due to “social distancing orders and fear” of the virus), populated mainly by the victims of gun violence or drug overdoses—but rather the inadequacies of health care for Black citizens in the South Side and other urban areas. In the chapters about particular days in the emergency room, Fisher delivers sharp portraits of individual patients. However, like the doctor who treated them, typically only for a few minutes, we have no idea what happens to them following the visit. The essays between these chapters of reportage chronicle the author’s life and his frequent frustration with a medical system that cares more about making money than caring for patients, especially those on Medicare. His indictments of the system are consistently convincing, but framing them as letters to patients is an awkward literary device, making the narrative disjointed. Nonetheless, the text is well written and compassionate and exposes countless problems within the American medical machine. Ta-Nehisi Coates provides the foreword.

A persuasive, sympathetic, scattered insider’s report on a broken system.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-23067-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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