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Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures


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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures welcomes readers into a world where the most mundane events can quickly become life or death. By following four young medical students and physicians – Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen – this debut collection from 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam is a riveting, eye-opening account of what it means to be a doctor. Deftly navigating his way through 12 interwoven short stories, the author explores the characters’ relationships with each other, their patients, and their careers. Lam draws on his own experience as an emergency room physician and shares an insider’s perspective on the fears, frustrations, and responsibilities linked with one of society’s most highly regarded occupations.

“I wanted to write about the way in which a person changes as they become a physician — how their world view shifts, and how they become a slightly different version of themselves in the process of becoming a doctor,” Lam explains. “I wanted to write about the reality that doing good and trying to help others is not simple. It is ethically complicated and sometimes involves a reality that can only be expressed by telling a story.”

In the book’s first story, “How to Get into Medical School, Part 1,” students Ming and Fitz wrestle with their opposing personalities and study techniques, while coming to terms with a growing emotional connection that elicits disapproval from Ming’s traditional Chinese-Canadian parents. Lam’s exceptional talent for describing scenarios with great precision is showcased in “Take All of Murphy,” when Ming, Chen, and Sri find themselves at a moral crossroads while dissecting a cadaver. Throughout the book, readers are treated to the physicians’ internal thoughts and the mental drama involved with treating patients, including Fitz’s struggle with self-doubt in “Code Clock” and Chen’s boredom and exhaustion in “Before Light.”

From delivering babies to evacuating patients and dealing with deadly viruses, the four primary characters in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures are made thoroughly human by Lam’s insightful detail, realistic dialogue, and expert storytelling. The medical world is naturally filled with drama, but it’s the author’s ability to give equal weight to the smaller moments that really brings this book to life.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

25 June 2007 – Winner of Canada's Giller Prize, Lam puts all the sex, and death and sleep deprivation crucial to any hospital drama in his debut story collection about doctors in the making. Thankfully Lam, an emergency room physician, looks beyond blood and guts to examine the conflicted hearts and minds of the four medical students sleepwalking their way through the required tests, dissections and all-night emergency room shifts. The stories trace an almost endless stretch of education and service that puts their stamina and skills to the test: Fitz (short for Fitzgerald) has a not-so-secret drinking problem, the fallout from which that lands him an unexpected job; Ming, the main cast's only woman, has a cold scientist's outlook that both aids and hinders her; Sri's heart breaks for anything that comes near his scalpel—be it a tattooed cadaver or a rambling psychotic; and dispassionate Chen struggles, like Sri, to balance compassion with his desire to succeed. The stories' quiet strength lies not in the doctors' education but in Lam's portrayal of the flawed humans behind the surgical masks. This collection made a big splash in Canada, and, as Weinstein Books' first title, is poised to do the same in the U.S.
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
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  • 13,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: 17 January 2006
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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