Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Review Of @louiseAronson A History of the Present Illness

I mean, she says it right there in A Medical Story on page 240:

Doctors, you see, aren't so different from patients. Every day we hope someone will see past our elaborate and very impressive window display to the jumble of expired products weighing down the shelves and choking the aisles of our psyches.

But let me digress for just a moment.

If your in search of fantastic literature (Yes, I said literature and not a series of stories told by a physician) than A History of the Present Illness is a must read. Does Louise really have time to doctor? If her writing wasn't fraught with such an accurate and profound understanding of what I have experienced, I would surely question whether one who has spent an inordinate amount of time learning how to be an MD could emote so eloquently.

There is so much good here.

The characters explode with humility and complexity like Quingshan in Snapshots From An Institution, who loyally protects his ailing wife and yet adapts to the ways of his son and their new country.

Like in the stories title, Heart Failure, we gasp for air with Marta stuck between the death of a father and the blinding pain of parenthood.

And don't let me get started on language and imagery. Go to Twenty-Five Things I know About My Husband's Mother and read number twenty five. breath.

But let me return to the quote that I started with. Louise, in A Medical Story, talks about the process of writing the book:

For my sake, I have to downplay some aspects of my professional and personal lives. The heartbreak and incredible sex, for example, but also the joy. In real life, there was more of it. In real life, if you're as lucky as I have been-with work that is long on characters, drama, and significance-there's always more joy.

This is where I actually disagree. Because even in the dark corners of this collection there is much joy. Many of the physicians are flawed: the psychiatrist's wife who tries to deaden her insides and her clinical husband, or the great Dr. Bautista and those nagging fears that he refuses to acknowledge.

But in that imperfection, in that diseased part of ourselves we become closer not only to our patients but also the kind of doctor we were before life and medical school tried to obliterate the luxurious softness.

Every day we hope someone will see past...

I have come to believe that joy is shared imperfection.

Joy is the "inappropriate" kiss that the brave "Dr Chitra" gave Maurice before he died in Soup or Sex.

Louise Aronson played a funny joke.

I had no idea the title of the book referred to me.

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