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February 27, 1991

Imagine a Woman and Other Tales

JAMA. 1991;265(8):1032. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460080102042

In his five previous collections of stories and essays, physician-writer Richard Selzer has probed and bared the heart and soul of modern medicine. His unique tales of patients, doctors, suffering, and healing have been imbued with unequal doses of love, tragedy, humor, and eccentricity. The result has often been a prescription for healing, which is impure but passionate.

Selzer's latest literary offering is a departure from the familiar scenarios of physicians, patients, and medical themes. Imagine a Woman and Other Tales consists of six curious stories, which continue (and culminate) Selzer's egression from the fervid medical fiction of previous collections. For the most part, these are gloomy narratives in which doctors and medicine appear only peripherally, and the few physicians who are portrayed seem either lifeless or artificially inflated. These bizarre stories are loaded with misery, obsession, madness, and loss. Hope is conspicuously absent in these pages, but fortunately love