THE PUZZLE PEOPLE

MEMOIRS OF A TRANSPLANT SURGEON

An innovative transplant surgeon looks back on a long and brilliant career. Starzl's ``puzzle people'' are not only the patients whose acquisitions of new organs have profoundly altered both their bodies and their minds, but also the physicians whose lives have been changed by participating in the process. Here, the author, who no longer performs surgery but still directs the Transplantation Institute at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, probes- -albeit gingerly—at the puzzle of his own life. He draws a vivid portrait of his father, but other family members remain shadows, and he never lets us very far inside his own psyche. In rapid succession, his wife leaves him, his father and sister die, and his son suffers an emotional breakdown; these events must have been devastating, yet, on the page, Starzl's expression of pain is carefully controlled. And so is his recounting of other significant events—career shifts, professional frustrations and triumphs, a new marriage to an abused black woman, and his own heart surgeries. Throughout, the author seems most intent on setting the record straight, generously crediting those whose work helped shape his own, praising those who carry it on, and excusing those who hampered it. Individual patients are mentioned from time to time, and although Starzl clearly cares about them, he avoids sentimentality in telling their tales. Clearly having thought long and hard about the doctor-patient relationship and the place of expensive technology in our financially troubled health-care system, he voices his concerns about patients' rights and the ethical dilemmas posed by obligatory randomized drug- testing. Not an intimate self-portrait but a well-crafted glimpse into a world of science where politics and personalities often clash. (Twenty b&w photos, ten line drawings—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-8229-3714-X

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Univ. of Pittsburgh

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview