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Books, Journals, New Media
July 4, 2001

The WardWardlife: The Apprenticeship of a Young Writer as a Hospital Clerk

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001American Medical Association


by Andrew Steinmetz, 160 pp, paper, $15.95 Canadian, ISBN, 1-55065-121-8, Montréal, Québec, Véhicule Press, 1999.

JAMA. 2001;286(1):95-96. doi:10.1001/jama.286.1.95

Honeybees see ultraviolet light. Bats sense, and perceive, in sonar. In Wardlife, a book of prose "sketches" drawn from his nine years as a ward clerk at a large teaching hospital, Andrew Steinmetz demonstrates that perception is a product as much of our developmental history as our evolutionary history.

Reading Wardlife allows a glimpse of how the hospital might appear to a mind prepared for the experience by Wallace Stevens and Michael Ondaatje, instead of Harrison's textbook. Scenes cleave along undetected fault lines; implausible categories emerge from the spaces between objects; accents fall on unlikely syllables. Steinmetz, a born poet raised by a family of doctors, has a different set of sense organs from his white-coated brethren.

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