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Books, Journals, New Media
August 18, 1999

Creative NonfictionA View From the Divide: Creative Nonfiction on Health and Science

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1999;282(7):695. doi:10.1001/jama.282.7.695

A book review is, by its nature, highly subjective, usually being the opinion of one person. As such, it is a little better than an anecdote. Reviewers should therefore attempt to picture themselves as members of a constituency at whom the review is directed. As a 60-ish internist with some interest in and knowledge of literature, I have tried to keep this in mind in reviewing A View From the Divide: Creative Nonfiction on Health and Science.

The "Divide" of the title is between creativity (meaning poetry, creative fiction, art, and the like) and science, with its objective insistence on hard data. The book—actually a special double issue of the journal Creative Nonfiction—comprises short essays by 18 single authors (six to 19 pages) on topics as divergent as meteorite collecting in Antarctica and schizophrenia. All are extremely personal, some almost diary-like, and the quality of the writing fits the mode of many anthologies, ie, some interesting and informative, some prosaic. In addition, several of the authors try too hard to be literary and metaphorical, which sometimes distracts from the subject at hand.

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