Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures: Stories


Author Vincent Lam studied medicine in Toronto where he is now an emergency room doctor. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, a collection of twelve short stories about medical school and the personal challenges that young doctors face in their new profession, is his prize-winning literary debut.

Lam's stories focus on the struggles of four University of Ottawa students as they make their way from university, to medical school, and on to eventual medical careers in Toronto. Although the stories are not structured so that the end of one leads directly to the next, they offer clear insights into the lives of the four individuals as they progress from hopeful students to medical professionals.

In the opening story, "How to Get into Medical School, Part I," we are introduced to Fitz (short for Fitzgerald) and Ming, two university study partners in the process of gaining medical school admittance. Ming, the only female among the four main characters, and the most focused of them all, finds herself attracted to Fitz despite knowing that her Chinese parents will never approve of her relationship with anyone not of their ethnic background. Fitz finds himself struggling with both his studies and his love for Ming. The book's second story, "Take All of Murphy," introduces the always calm Chen and the overly sensitive Sri as they study human anatomy with lab partner Ming by dissecting the cadaver they have decided to call "Murphy."

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures is a frank look at the mental and physical pressures faced by four individuals as they progress from student to practicing physician. Each of Lam's stories is snapshot in time, a snapshot often taken at some critical point in the lives of one of the four as they struggle to make the right decision about some moral or ethical issue with which they are suddenly faced. The stories are somewhat uneven but, overall, they succeed remarkably well in creating four believable characters who work hard, but not always successfully, to overcome their human weaknesses so that they can be the doctors they once dreamed of being. Victor Lam reminds us that doctors, after all, are mere human beings, themselves not much different from the patients they treat, suffering the same weaknesses and frailties that we all know so well.

Rated at: 4.0

8 comments:

  1. Another one for the wishlist. You. are. a. bad. influence. Don't stop!

    I tagged you for a book-related meme.

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  2. Oooh. Sounds nifty. Bybee's right---you're such a bad influence! :)

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  3. Bybee & Heather - There are twelve stories in the book and only two of them didn't work for me. The two that I didn't like were mentioned by another reviewer as his two favorite ones in the whole book, so I'll be curious to see what y'all think if you read this one.

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  4. I added this to my TBR list a few days ago, and I'm happy to see you enjoyed it for the most part. I think the title is just great. I almost wish it were a non-fiction book as well. You know, a kind of journey through the weird medical treatments of the past...h

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  5. J.S., I think you'll like it if you're interested in this kind of thing. I found the medical school stories to be the most intriguing of all and, since they all come at the beginning, that might explain why my impression of the book was that it tailed off at the end. Let me know what you think.

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  6. Hi Nice Blog . A recent development has been the appearance of a complete, sectioned human body appearing on the World Wide Web. The Visible Human Project presents transverse CT, MRI and cryosection images of two complete human cadavers, one male and one female, at an average of 1 mm intervals in Human Anatomy study

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  7. That's a fantastic link, Anesha. Thanks so much.

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  8. Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about Human Anatomy study or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!

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