Amusing and often painful items best taken in small doses.




A Ripley-esque collection of “compellingly disgusting, hilarious, or downright bizarre” medical oddities.

British journalist and medical historian Morris (The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations, 2018), a regular writer for the Lancet, scoured 300 years of medical literature’s “little-known corners” to ferret out 60-plus cases that reach the level of believe-it-or-not’s. “Every one of these cases says something about the beliefs and knowledge of an earlier age,” he writes. He presents the cases in anecdotal fashion, with numerous quotes from the published articles, accompanied by the author’s witty and often humorous, colloquial commentary. The cases are divided into seven sections, including “Mysterious Illnesses,” “Horrifying Operations,” and “Remarkable Recoveries.” In the “Unfortunate Predicaments” file, we find the 1823 case of a sailor who, when sufficiently inebriated, would swallow clasp-knives “for a laugh.” He once swallowed three in succession and, at another time, over two days, 14; ultimately, 35 in all: “Dear oh dear. Will he never learn?” Most passed, but some, an autopsy revealed, remained, partially digested. Then there’s the 1827 case of a boy “who got his wick stuck in a candlestick.” He was unable to urinate, so they finally operated, and an enormous jet of urine “projected” onto the doctor. “Charming.” Like quirky Perry Mason book titles, the list unwinds: the boy who vomited his own twin, the case of the luminous patients, the case of the drunken Dutchman’s guts, the self-inflicted lithotripsy, the combustible countess, the death of a 152-year-old, the human waxwork, the amphibious infant, and the man killed by his false teeth. In 1857, San Francisco surgeon Dr. Elias Samuel Cooper performed a two-plus-hour heart surgery, an “unthinkable” feat. He removed a piece of metal from beneath a beating heart while the patient “was fully conscious.” For its time, Morris writes, “there is virtually nothing to match this operation for complexity and sheer jeopardy.”

Amusing and often painful items best taken in small doses.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4368-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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