Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
by Richard Selzer, 352 pp, $25, ISBN 0-312-18687-8, New York, NY, Picador USA, 1998.
For more than two decades, physician-author Richard Selzer has published short stories and essays that have sutured medicine and literature with language that strengthens both disciplines. Now most of his finest work has been assembled in The Doctor Stories, an anthology that includes 25 previously published pieces from four earlier books, two new stories, and an entertaining introduction.
The title is a nod to The Doctor Stories of William Carlos Williams, the poet and pediatrician who believed that the practice of medicine nourished writing. The union of Selzer and Williams might also be discovered in their respective stories, "Brute" and "The Use of Force." Each narrative depicts the frustration, anger, and extreme measures a doctor will resort to in order to treat even the most reluctant patients. The dust jacket portrays a twisted stethoscope whose earpieces are blurred. It seems fitting that an instrument that symbolizes the medical profession and literally connects physicians and patients adorns the book. The cover further reminds us of the importance of carefully listening to our patients and their stories.
FictionThe Doctor Stories. JAMA. 1998;280(16):1457. doi:10.1001/jama.280.16.1457-JBK1028-5-1