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ande
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#16 Rx for these times: The Spirit of the Place

[ Edited ]

Greetings, Book Explorers:

 

Are you waiting for a call back from your doctor? Are you dreading your next visit –- the long wait and the short face time? Are you overwhelmed trying to keep your medical plan’s co-pay and referral policies straight? Does your doctor know your name without looking at your chart? Are you one of many people who doesn’t have a primary-care physician because his/her practice is full? And if you do does it take months to schedule a routine physical?

 

If the answer to these questions is yes or mostly yes you’ve got a lot of company in a club no one wants to be a member of: the American Health Care Crisis. In many ways all the complexities and costs of modern medicine converge in the offices of what used to be known as a family practice. Today’s doctors spend too much time arguing with insurance companies about coverage and low reimbursements, which causes them to work longer hours seeing more patients in shorter office visits. No wonder many medical school graduates these days want to be dermatologists.

 

If you long for the days (if you even remember the days) when a doctor actually came to your house or at least had the ability to give you his/her full attention during a relaxed visit you will want to want to read The Spirit of the Place, a novel by Samuel Shem While the book is about many things –- love, loss, family, community, leaps of faith –- a small-town doctor and a not-so-sure-he-wants-to-be-a family doctor are at the heart of this very insightful, charming and funny book. If you are a fan of Empire Falls, by Richard Russo, and all it has to say about community and connection then you will enjoy this book very much. The Literary Ventures Fund is supporting Spirit, which will be published in June (see upper right corner of this page to pre-order).

 

Does the author’s name rings a bell? Samuel Shem wrote The House of God, the classic novel about medical internship, which was recently named by the British medical journal The Lancet as one of the two most important American medical novels of the 20th century, the other being Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith  It has sold over two million copies, in thirty languages and is required reading in medical schools throughout the world. If there is a doctor in your family or you have a friend who is a doctor chances are he/she got or gave this book as a gift.

 

Here’s what some other talented authors have to say:

‘'The Spirit of the Place is written with a large heart, a healing touch, wry and wise insight into the human condition. Worthy of the Best of Samuel Shem, which is worthy indeed.'

                   James Carroll, National Book Award Winner and author of House of War

 

"A deeply moving and profoundly intelligent exploration of the complexities and rewards of family, profession, and place. The story of a young physician returning to his small town becomes a tale with universal meaning. This book continues to resonate in the mind and heart long after it is read"

                     Jerome Groopman, M.D., Author of How Doctors Think

 

"In this lovely novel Samuel Shem brilliantly describes scenery from the Italian Lakes to the Hudson River Valley with vivid enchanting detail. But his real subject is the landscape of the human heart with its dangers and delights, its vertiginous cliffs and mossy woods, its comforts and contradictions. This is a wonderful book about the surprises of human connection and the infinite power of love."

                        Susan Cheever, Author of American Bloomsbury

 

"This new novel from Samuel Shem, raucous and insightful physician of the soul, captures a town, a man, a time of life with all the verve and nerve that marked THE HOUSE OF GOD. Hooray!"

                               Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader

 

Book Explorers: Are you a fan of books -- fiction and non-fiction -- about medicine, medical issues and health-care professionals? What have you read in these genres? Dr. Phil does not count!

 

Ande

 

 



Message Edited by ande on 04-14-2008 05:20 PM
Melissa_W
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Re: #16 Rx for these times: The Spirit of the Place

As an ex-premed student, I've read books by a number of clinicians.  Too many to count :smileyhappy:  I've actually pared down my holdings in recent years to make way for new books since I've reversed directions, heading for English.
 
Some of my favorites are pieces by Richard Selzer, Perri Klass (who also wrote a knitting book :smileyhappy: ), Robert Marion, and Sherwin Nuland.  I'll get some links up later when I have broadband access.
 
Incidentally, my boss at my "real" job, Dr. Loreen Herwaldt, just published a book titled Patient Listening; it's based on a performance piece she created using found poems (poems created by choosing words or phrases) from patients' narratives.  The project started when she took a sabbatical to attempt to quantify patients' experiences in the medical system, but she felt that the act of "quantification" negated the story that the patients' told.  The piece developed into "In Their Own Words" - a piece read and perfomed by members of the medical school classes at Iowa as a way of reminding new and prospective doctors that there is a person at the business end of every interaction and also as a way to rethink how clinicians communicate with physicians.  Loreen (and some of the medical students) recently read on "Live at Prairie Lights" (it's archived so I'll get that linked up, too).  The best poem is the last one in the book - "I Have a Story to Tell."
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Re: #16 Rx for these times: The Spirit of the Place

Wow. Very impressive. Three cheers for Dr. H!
 
Ande
Melissa_W
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Some links as promised

[ Edited ]
Richard Selzer:
 
Perri Klass:
Other Women's Children (Dr. Klass has several novels, all centered around female physicians - her new novel is due in a few months - OWC is one of her first and I think also one of her best)
(In non-medical issues, she also wrote Two Sweaters for My Father, containing a number of her essays about hand knitting, and Every Mother is a Daughter with her mother, writer Sheila Solomon Klass)
 
Robert Marion:
 
Sherwin Nuland:
 
Going back through the list, it's important to note that while a number chronicle their own training, each writer also chronicles the lives of certain patients who made an impact on their training and communication with patients. 
 
As for my boss:
Patient Listening: A Doctor's Guide (Dr. Selzer has a contribution, as sell as Jane Smiley and number of other writer-patients)
The link to "Live from Prairie Lights" is here.  Dr. Herwaldt's reading is not up yet, but it will get there.  This is the archives page so feel free to browse around.


Message Edited by pedsphleb on 04-17-2008 01:34 PM
Melissa W.
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There's one I forgot

 
I forgot a title.  This book was written by Helena, Dr. Ponseti's wife, and it's part biography, part description of the development of Dr. Ponseti's method to treat clubfoot.  Traditionally, clubfoot was treated by surgery to re-align the foot and ankle but many of the children developed early osteoarthritis, joint pain, and had trouble walking or running normally.  Dr. Ponseti developed a non-surgical method of treatment which involves a series of castings to train the bones and muscles of the foot into normal alignment.  The method didn't catch on right away (a surgeon who doesn't operate?) but many parents of the children treated with the casting method were very pleased with the results (there are few complications) and the method gained in popularity. 
 
These days, Dr. Ponseti trains physicians from around the world - they all travel to Iowa so he can teach them the method.  He still sees patients several days a week.
 
He's about 92. :smileyhappy:  And a sprightly 92 at that (I ususally run into him in the cafeteria, a flock of fellows, visiting clinicians, and residents following).
 
PS:  If anyone is interested in the Ponseti's book, please drop me a PM.  Although the book isn't currently available as a new copy through BN.com, the Coralville Barnes and Noble has been able to obtain a number of new copies for a series of events with the Ponseti parent group. 
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Re: There's one I forgot

Many thanks for all those links to terrific titles. I'd like to add a couple more -- by Claire McCarthy, a very gifted pediatrian
 
Everyone's Child: A Pediatrician's Story of an Inner-City Practice
 
Learning How the Heart Beats
 
 
 
My links aren't as elegant as yours. What's the trick?
 
Ande
 
 
Melissa_W
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Embedding Links

[ Edited ]
They are embedded.  I used to use HTML code to embed the hypertext but the new editor has a nifty button.
 
Highlight the text you want the link to relate to:  i.e. The Mercy Rule by Perri Klass
 
Then click on the "globe with the infinity sign" button, second to the right of the Smiley face and paste in the destination link (or type if it's really easy).  And it comes out like this:
The Mercy Rule by Perri Klass
(as an FYI - Dr. Klass is also the medical director of the national literacy program "Reach Out and Read," a group that promotes literacy as part of primary pediatric practice; Dr. Klass and ROaR are profiled in Nicholas Basbanes's book Every Book It's Reader:The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World)
 
Sorry - stuff is coming out of my head in bits and pieces today. 
:smileyhappy:

ande wrote:
 
My links aren't as elegant as yours. What's the trick?
 
Ande
 
 





Message Edited by pedsphleb on 04-17-2008 04:25 PM
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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ande
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Re: Embedding Links

Thanks for the tip!
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Re: Some links as promised

Hi, I also enjoy medical writing and am looking forward to The Spirit of the Place ... thought I'd add a few more recommendations:
 
Anything by Atul Gawande, e.g. Complications or Better
 
Anything by the Bellevue Literary Review, either their semi-annual journal or their excellent first anthology
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Re: Some links as promised

[ Edited ]
Thanks for adding those. Bellevue is a great press and I'm glad you mentioned it. In case you didn't see it, Paula Nangle, a Bellevue author (The Leper Compound), joined us at Book Explorers -- see #10 -- a few weeks ago and discussed her very good novel.
 


Message Edited by ande on 05-15-2008 10:00 AM
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detailmuse
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Re: Some links as promised

I'll take a look, thanks! To date, every piece I've read in a Bellevue pub has been outstanding.

ande wrote:
Thanks for adding those. Bellevue is a great press and I'm glad you mentioned it. In case you didn't see it, Paula Nangle, a Bellevue author (The Leper Compound), joined us at Book Explorers -- see #10 -- a few weeks ago and discussed her very good novel.